Facebook is embroiled in a highly charged debate over net neutrality in India because of Free Basics, a controversial program that the social network claims will bring digital connectivity to the developing world — but which critics say might hurt more than it helps. Free Basics is a partnership between Facebook and telecom providers that offers people free Internet access, but only to a limited number of websites and with traffic routed through Facebook’s servers.
Indian regulators temporarily banned Free Basics just before Christmas, asking Reliance Communications (the only carrier in India offering Free Basics) to halt support while the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) determined whether telecoms should be allowed to offer differential pricing for different types of content. And based on a scorching missive sent this week from TRAI to Facebook, the regulatory body’s patience appears to be running out.
In a letter released Monday, TRAI said that it is concerned about Facebook’s “self-appointed spokesmanship” on behalf of millions of Indians. TRAI’s frustration is largely with Facebook’s automated lobbying campaign in support of Free Basics, which urged users to send a form-letter-style response to TRAI, and which the regulatory authority’ said “has the flavor of reducing this meaningful consultative exercise” into “a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll.”
Here is The Letter :