Indian Regulator Slams Facebook Over Internet.org Free Basics Poll

By David Cohen Comment

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India issued a sharply worded reply (embedded below) to Facebook regarding its grassroots campaign backing Internet.org’s Free Basics offerings.

The TRAI chided Facebook for using what it called “a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll” to attempt to sway public opinion on the matter, saying in its letter to the social network:

In light of the tangential nature of the responses by the users to the questions asked, the communication of such text was vital to demonstrating and ensuring that those who are responding to TRAI are making informed decisions. The only reasonable inference that can be drawn from your communications in this regard, despite two efforts by TRAI to request you for a clarification, is that the text of TRAI’s communication was not in turn conveyed by you to those who had sent responses to TRAI using your platform.

TRAI fully subscribes to this view when engaging in public consultations. However, your urging has the flavor of reducing this meaningful consultative exercise designed to produce informed decisions in a transparent manner into a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll.

Equally of concern is your self-appointed spokesmanship on behalf of those who have sent responses to TRAI using your platform.

TRAI asked Facebook to put Free Basics on hold over concerns that it went against the principles of net neutrality.

Readers: How do you think this conflict in India will play out?

TRAI Response

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