Mark Zuckerberg was in India, and after much hoopla his Townhall Q&A happened at IIT-Delhi. The questions asked were much about his general propaganda but didn’t quite hit the bull’s eye. Making it a soft, rosy interaction centered around Candy Crush, did India lose the chance to ask the questions which really mattered?
Here are 18 questions which would have given us answers we all have been waiting for.
1.Why should I choose Internet.org over promotional data plans which is allowing me to discover ALL of Internet in my own ways?
With Internet.org/Free Basics, I would have access to only limited websites. Internet’s prime principle is equality. Why are you segregating other viable sources of information?
2.Why does Facebook get access to all usage data of sites that are on FreeBasics/Internet.org?
This is the reason why internet companies would not want to be a part of Internet.org. Why is my website accessible to the users only through a Facebook-proxy server on another web browser? Isn’t this monopolizing?
3.If all you want is increasing Internet access using FreeBasics in the developing world, why haven’t you tried Mozilla’s equal rating options?
With ‘Grameenphone’ in Bangladesh, Mozilla offers 20 MB of unrestricted data per day after you watch a short advertisement in the phone’s marketplace.
Similarly, ‘Orange’ in Africa and Middle East it offers unlimited data for six months bundled with Klif handsets.
4. Is Facebook considering giving the Indian government access to encryption keys for Facebook Messenger/Whatsapp, in exchange for allowing Internet.org in India?
As per the New Encryption draft guidelines, “users in India are allowed to use only the products registered in India.” Whatsapp/Facebook are clearly not a product of India. But with the government’s support to Internet.org, shall we expect you giving encryption keys to the government?
5.You say telecom operators shouldn’t play gatekeepers. Why does Facebook retain the right to allow or disallow partners on Internet.org?
Facebook signed the Internet Association’s amicus curiae brief supporting the FCC, stating “The open architecture of the Internet creates an innovation-without-permission ecosystem. Consumers (and consumers alone) decide the winners and losers on the open Internet.”
6. How is Internet.org a promotional means to get new users to the Internet, if it is permanent and users can remain on Internet.org forever?
Zuckerberg said in his Q&A that his idea of promoting Free Basics is to make people ‘aware’ of the advantages of Internet and make them eventually pay for overall internet data plan. Why do I need to shift? Why can’t I continue using Free Basics?
7. How much money has Facebook spent on marketing Internet.org in India?
Reliance Communication which is providing Internet.org at present covers 12% of market share and Airtel which is promoting Zero-Airtel covers 26% of market share. How much are they charging you?
8. How does Facebook ascertain whether their estimated non-Internet users have never used the Internet before?
According to the Facebook spokesperson 20% of Internet.org users were previously not active on mobile data and Internet.org is bringing them online. How did you come to that figure?
9. What kind of disclosures are made to users when they leave Internet.org to access the rest of the web?
Since Free Basics allow only a certain amount of sites to my access, there is a warning shown when I access other websites. What all does this ‘warning’ consists of? In case of a warning regarding data charges, how many users drop off on an estimate?
10. Reliance’s advertisement for Internet.org targets affluent urban youngsters, when in fact, Facebook is talking about bringing people online who do not already have an Internet access. How does this fit?
The Reliance TVC is pretty misleading. A bunch of cool, urban lads demanding FREE internet for themselves when the very purpose of Internet.org is to serve the ‘poor’, doesn’t dilute well with Facebook’s goal.
11. Is the data of Indian citizens who use Internet.org sent to servers outside India?
To be on the Internet.org platform, internet companies are required to make a very low bandwidth version of their service which is then served to the end-user through Facebook’s proxy server. Its believed that all the data you get access to will be sent to NSA. So isn’t our data’s security at stake? What if it’s used against the interest of Indian citizens?
12. How will Facebook ensure that users don’t confuse Facebook for the Internet?
Studies from Indonesia and Phillipines show that most users of Internet.org confuse Facebook for the wider internet. Reliance Communications is advertising Internet.org as Free Internet. Why are you projecting it to be the same thing when it’s not ?
13. Few companies have left Internet.org. What are their reasons?
The idea was to get basic informative websites on board. But why are big players like Cleartrip, NewsHunt, Times Internet and NDTV quitting the game?
14. Is Facebook paying for data/marketing for its telecom operators?
When the Indonesian telecom operator, XL Axiata, quit Internet.org they said that it was because Axiata was expected to pay for data and marketing. Is it true? Or is Facebook paying for them? If it’s so, where is Facebook getting the revenue for it?
15. Isn’t creating a consumer data pricing differentiation between those companies which are on internet.org and those which are not, a disadvantage to the latter?
When you talk of net neutrality and Free Basics in the same breathe, isn’t it contrary? Those internet companies who are on Free Basics/Internet.org are definitely at par with more users and viewers than those who do not have enough resources to pay their presence on Internet.org. It’s unfair.
16. If Facebook’s only goal is to provide free internet access to the mass, then why don’t you pursue it as a CSR initiative?
Internet.org claims on their website that Facebook is not here to just make money. Mark Zuckerberg also says that “connectivity is a human right”. Well, if it is, then why don’t you invest in setting up a better network in rural places or providing an even more affordable handset?
17. When Internet.org is including ‘basic’ websites on its platform, what is the criteria through which they choose them?
Internet is open, public and democratic. We would really like to know what open, public and democratic procedures are being used to determine which websites are included on your Free Basics.
18. What if Google, Twitter refuse to be a part of Free Basics?
There are no formal announcements regarding their involvement in Free Basics yet. Undeniably, both of them are vital basics in this date. Will you still let them be part of Free Basics if they refuse to share their user data with you?
Internet.org is keeping us in dark on a lot of pressing issues, in spite of aggressively pitching us all to join in. SHALL WE?
Here is the original compilation of all questions.