India Wins. Facebook Loses. TRAI Says NO To FreeBasics

TRAI has announced its verdict on Facebook’s free basics and while the regulatory body has acknowledged ((and blasted) Facebook for its unethical campaign, the final verdict is pro-freedom and has said no to Facebook’s Free Basics program.

TRAI: No service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content

TRAI has ruled against differential pricing.

  • No service provider shall enter into any arrangement, agreement or contract, by whatever name called, with any person, natural or legal, that has the effect of discriminatory tariffs for data services being offered or charged by the service provider for the purpose of evading the prohibition in this regulation.
  • Reduced tariff for accessing or providing emergency services, or at times of public emergency has been permitted.
  • Financial disincentives for contravention of the regulation have also been specified.

And while we are at it, do note that several organizations like NASSCOM actually were in support of differential pricing.

Facebook spent whopping Rs. 300 crores to get people to support its Free Basics program, a program that would have given Facebook control over what users will have access to.

TRAI questioned Facebook’s methodology of garnering support (which has been full of unethical practices) and TRAI has now given Facebook what it deserved – Babaji ka Thullu!


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  1. Facebook is a corporation. Everything comes with a price.

    There is no such thing as FREE LUNCH.

    It will come with a hook. More like corporate propaganda on their basic free services. They will show ads which benefits the corporations on top of so called free services. People will only get information which facebook wants people to see. Good Job TRAI

  2. So you think all the remote places care about your internet? May be it is about time that you visit a remote place (at least in India) where people are more concerned about clean drinking water, public sanitation, primary healthcare system, employ ability, child welfare, primary education, and other related issues. i don’t think updating their facebook status or retweeting cat pics is their priority.

    And “Government should give internet to all remote places”…hmmmm, I’m just done with sitting on a can, waiting for “government” to wipe my arse.

  3. If the government gave internet to all remote places. Facebook didn’t have to do this. I definitely support anyone who wants to help with educational content irrespective of providers.

  4. > arguably responsible company
    The company makes money off of people’s data. The service (“Free” “Basics”) doesn’t allow any encryption, sees all data. The company has in the past flouted user privacy.

    > “we should have given it a chance”, “THEN put a stop to it”
    Nipping something bad in the bud is not a bad idea. Especially moreso in a country with a “chalta hai toh chalne do” attitude.

    > “The advantage it will bring to …”, “Just one child in a village discovering wikipedia …”
    (Not “will”, “could have” 😀 ) So would have a truly free (metered) internet, which Facebook could have provided with the same amount of money.

    > if you sit and think unbiasedly about it, this is not really a net neutrality issue
    The definition of the phrase itself is unbiased. This IS a net neutrality issue, if you trust the creator of the Web itself, Tim Berners-Lee:

    > In the Netflix-Comcast case
    That was the Netflix-Comcast case, NOT “the net neutrality case”, any more than the Nirbhaya case was “the rape case”. Let’s try to not erode the general definition, please.

    > Comcast was differentiating between it’s [sic] clients (Netflix), …..that violates net neutrality.
    Net neutrality is not “non-discrimination of *clients* … on the internet”. Net neutrality is being neutral to the content in the pipes; non-discrimination of *internet content*, in other words.

    > With, customers always have options to go paid … No neutrality is violated
    Discrimination of, say Khan Academy, is a violation of neutrality. Customers have an incentive to stay with free service – even if the service doesn’t provide them access to Khan Academy content.

    > you are crying out about the decent enough free grains from the ration store … basmati and other kinds …
    Multiple fallacies. To point them out, I’ll stick with your poor analogy:

    Free grains weren’t being given. Grains from one specific farm, with a portion of the proceeds going to Facebook, were being given.

    “basmati and other kinds of rice grains”. This is where the analogy breaks down, you’ve got a mistaken idea of the Internet. The Internet is an unbiased, uncaring network of pipes. An internet connection is a pipe connection into this network. What goes down the pipes, should not be filtered by where it is from or what it is. This simple equality is what allowed the Internet to grow this big, indeed even Facebook! If MySpace – the then rich social network – had outpaid thefacebook (that’s what it was called back then), thefacebook – the underling, yet superior product – would never have caught on.

    > paying more for better speed or for access to more data download
    You want a bigger pipe? Sure. You want a pipe that lets in MySpace quickly but makes anyone that goes to languish in the agony of slow internet? You’re discriminating. Against both the site and the users of that site.

    This is like trains, buses, private cars. You want to travel in first class, or in a speedier train? Sure. You want only whites on this train? …

  5. definitely does not deserve the visceral reactions it’s been getting.

    – It’s a genuine effort by an arguably responsible company with a good hearted leader and an effort in the right direction.

    – Instead of all this negativity going around, we should have given it a chance. The advantage it will bring to parts of the society could have been incredible.
    – Just one child in a village discovering wikipedia in his regional language via the free internet on his family phone would have made this effort worth it.

    – If it would have turned negative as the cynics say it will, it wouldn’t have been hard for the government to THEN put a stop to it.

    – And really, if you sit and think unbiasedly about it, this is not really a net neutrality issue.
    – In the Netflix-Comcast case, Comcast was asking for money from Netflix as it used more resources.
    – End customers were not given a choice. If you sign up for Comcast, you participate in this ‘extortion’ ….that violates net neutrality. Comcast was differentiating between it’s clients (Netflix), …..that violates net neutrality.

    – With, customers always have options to go paid and get unfettered access.
    – No neutrality is violated at all.
    – Right now it’s as if you are crying out about the decent enough free grains from the ration store that the poor will get when instead they should have been given a choice between basmati and other kinds of rice grains. So they should stop getting grains altogether. Illogical ?
    – With this logic, paying more for better speed or for access to more data download is also a violation of net ‘neutrality’

    – In the end, it’s a knee-jerk reaction by people exposed to the international tech scene … we do not think or understand the advantages it brings to other parts of the society ….. and it seriously undermines my confidence in our country to make the right decisions.

    – I deeply deeply regret that the initiative wasn’t started before the ‘real’ net neutrality fiasco in the US.
    – It’s only the Netflix-Comcast influence that the keyword ‘net neutrality’ was brought into the English dictionary in India.

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