Premier Institutions IIT and IISc pitches against Free Basics move by Facebook's

Academicians from the country’s premier institutes Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have slammed Facebook’s Free Basics initiative. They have termed it “flawed” and “deceptive”.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, around 50 faculty members from IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kharagpur, Madras, Patna) and IISc Bengaluru have denounced the proposal dubbing it a “lethal combination that may result in total lack of freedom on how Indians can use the internet”.            

Listing three major flaws within the programme, the scientists urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to “thoroughly reject” Facebook’s “free fundamentals” proposal. 

The first obvious flaw within the proposal is that Facebook assumes control of defining what a ‘basic’ service is,”. “Facebook will have entry to all of your apps’ contents.

The second major flaw within the proposal is not visible to the lay person as it is a technical element, but it has deep and disturbing implications. Since Facebook can access un-encrypted contents of users’ ‘basic’ services, either we get to consider health apps to be not basic, or risk revealing health records of all Indians to Facebook.”

And, “The third flaw is that the term ‘free’ in Free Basics is a marketing gimmick.”

The academicians said, “We, therefore, urge that the TRAI should support net neutrality in its strongest form, and thoroughly reject Facebook’s ‘free basics’ proposal.”