India’s decision to effectively ban Facebook’s pared-back free Internet service a.k.a Free Basics may prompt other regulators to demand equal online access for their users which could become a huge setback to the organization.
India was expected to be a critical piece for the Internet.Org and this event might have a domino effect on the initiative throughout the world.
Internet.org is Facebook’s umbrella initiative to bring Internet access to the unconnected. Part of that is the Free Basics program, which Facebook has launched in around three dozen emerging countries. The service has been criticized outside India, too, with Facebook accused of infringing the principle of net neutrality – the concept that all websites and data on the Internet be treated equally.
Facebook could also challenge the ruling in the courts, but a more likely move, said Marc Einstein, Asia-Pacific director at Frost and Sullivan, would be to sit down with the TRAI “to try to come up with a solution that’s deemed a little more neutral.”