The debate about net neutrality has been heating in the recent days especially now that Facebook has officially kicked off its Free Basics program that aims to provide the world with free access to the internet.
The program started in Indonesia, and it has already found its way into several other countries including India and Egypt, with the Internet.org-powered program receiving quite a significant number of mixed reactions. Indian and Egyptian telecom service providers are not pleased with this move as they believe that it violates the laws of net neutrality.
With these countries taking necessary steps to block the usage of this service in their respective markets, they have made a new ally in the fight against the Mark Zuckerberg-owned social networking company.
It seems the World Bank, just like these governments, has some reservations about Facebook’s Free Basics program. The global financial institution released a detailed 359-page report this week, stating that it deems the current move by Facebook as a violation of the set net neutrality laws as well as being a distortion of the market.
“Recent trends in developing services where some basic content can be accessed without data charges, for instance, Facebook’s Free Basics, while another content requires data to access, would appear as an antithesis of net neutrality laws and a distortion of the markets,” the World Bank wrote.
These are the same views that most telcos against this program are putting across. However, in response to similar allegations, the CEO of Facebook, the Zuck, said that it is not possible to provide users with the whole of Internet at zero charges. However, what the Free Basics service does is just to allow users access to the most basic services on the web, for instance, Wikipedia, weather information as well as its Facebook platform.
With Facebook working on ways to provide free internet access to the world, the World Bank reports that there are more than 2 billion people who don’t own a mobile phone. Also, the report says that close to 60% of the entire world has no access to the Internet, which is something that Facebook claims to be working to reduce drastically. But the question that still bets answers from Facebook is what will these people use to access the free internet on offer?
Now, it is reported that only about 15% of the entire world has access to broadband internet, an indicator that a huge part of the world is still untouched by the digital revolution that Facebook is spearheading.