India Set To Ban Zero Rating As Facebook's Misleading Lobbying Falls Flat

from the phony-altruism dept

Apparently the millions Facebook has been spending on advertisements, lobbying, marketing and spamming the Indian government will be for naught. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) appears poised to ban the practice of zero rating as part of its new net neutrality rules, effectively killing Facebook’s controversial Free Basics zero rating program once and for all in the country. According to the Times of India, TRAI is expected to deliver the death blow to Facebook’s world-domination ambitions within a week:

“Trai will issue an order to this effect within a week, top sources told TOI. The order is also expected to bar free or subsidised data packages that offer access to only a select services, such as Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp messenger. “These are discriminatory and are against the concept of digital democracy. We will not allow them,” a source said. The regulator’s stand will clear the confusion over net neutrality. There were apprehensions over the manner in which free Internet was being offered, after the introduction of some zero-rated platforms with preferential treatment to a few websites for a fee.”

India would join Japan, The Netherlands, Chile and Slovenia in banning zero rating entirely, based on the idea that cap exemption gives some companies a leg up, and unfairly distorts the inherently level Internet playing field.

That’s something the FCC refused to do here in the States, and as a result we’re witnessing telecom carriers rushing toward who can be the most “innovative” in the zero rating space. AT&T and Verizon are now formally charging companies for premium, cap-exempt status, T-Mobile is throttling every shred of video that touches its network to 1.5 Mbps (and lying about it), and Comcast is now exempting its own streaming video service from usage caps, much to the chagrin of smaller streaming competitors. So far, the FCC’s response has been to nod dumbly.

In India, Facebook (lead by former FCC boss and neutrality waffler Kevin Martin), has been engaged in a blistering media and lobbying campaign to convince India that a curated walled garden run by Facebook was a great way to help the nation’s poor farmers. Indian activists and critics like Mozilla disagreed, arguing that the company was simply hiding its lust to control emerging ad markets under the banner of altruism, and if Facebook really wanted to help India’s poor, it should focus on improving the country’s actual Internet infrastructure.

Facebook’s initial response was to call critics of the company’s program extremists who were hurting the poor (despite many of the critics being local Indian activists who’ve dedicated a lifetime to that task). When that didn’t work, Facebook changed the name of the program, and filled local newspapers with full-page editorials by CEO Mark Zuckerberg declaring the company’s sole interest was poor farmers, not cornering developing ad markets. When people didn’t buy that, Facebook tried tricking its users (including those in the U.S. and UK) into spamming the Indian government.

It appears to be that last effort that may have pushed TRAI over the edge (you can read TRAI politely trying to ask Facebook (pdf) to prove the 11 million bogus supporters of Free Basics actually exist). Assuming TRAI follows through on reports, Facebook’s now forced to do what many critics wanted all along: actually put all of the money spent on lobbying and marketing Free Basics — into actually helping shore up India’s lagging telecom infrastructure.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: facebook

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “India Set To Ban Zero Rating As Facebook's Misleading Lobbying Falls Flat”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: impotent rage

Good for cannon fodder only are you. With this gun unloaded, run that-way you will. Duck and cover I will.

“Mr. Spock, if you would please, a full spread of photon torpedos. Lets get rid of these silly “Force” religious fanatic twits.”

“Gladly captain.” Pew, pew, pew, ka-freakin’ ka-Blammo!

“Helm, onto our net destination please. Riker, you have the bridge. I’ll be in my ready-room. Computer, Earl Grey hot. Mr. Data, bring your violin, and Troy, I’ll need your services as well. Wesley, try not to get yourself killed or start another war. Mr. Worf, I couldn’t care less what you want to get up to. Have fun.”

Suomynona (user link) says:

Re: impotent rage

I can’t imagine the impotent rage Zuck must feel … trying to accumulate even more wealth.

Not there, so don’t know; but I think money/wealth has little to do with it. He’s way way over the “worry about money” bar; I think he’s actually trying to help people and still make a buck in the process. And he’s got a Very Good Track Record for his one-shot pony so of course he’s right.

You can give all of the fishing poles, lines, and hooks that you want to people in the desert, but it won’t help if it’s not what they want — at least in the way you intended. In this case he’s trying to grab what attention they have left and point it at his coke of an idea (FB) by paying for the access straws. And by damn, if I’m paying for it all, then you’re going to be looking at me, not G+ or porn. A reasonable sentiment which gives away his hand.

For him, it’s an investment in the future. Unfortunately, he seems to have bribed^H^H^H invested in looking for love in all of the wrong places. I’m sure they still appreciate it all, though. A buck is still a buck, even if it’s actually a rupee.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: impotent rage

“He’s way way over the “worry about money” bar”

People at his wealth level don’t worry about money in the same way normal people do, but they absolutely worry about money and seek to increase their pile. The difference is that you and I worry about money because we worry about affording the stuff we want. The ultra wealthy worry about money because money is power, and they want to maximize their power. Also at a certain point, the amount of accumulated wealth becomes like a score in a game of “collect it all”.

Whatever (profile) says:

Based on how India generally works, the Zero rating thing is an issue mostly likely because Facebook forgot to pay the right people. India has one of the most corrupted political machines on the world (US isn’t even close), and this whole deal smells.

Not that I think Facebook is right, they are not. But had they piled enough money in front of the right people, they would be a national treasure.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: motive?

Is India the champion of net neutrality (a.k.a. fair business practices), or do Indian companies have their own horse(s) in the game that would have been blocked by this “zero rating”?

“Is India the champion of net neutrality” I believe means “The Indian gov’t is protecting India’s Internet citizen users”, yes? It sounds like it to me. They’re regulating a level playing field, I think.

“… or do Indian companies have their own horse(s) in the game that would have been blocked by this “zero rating”?”

I’m really not sure what you’re talking about there. I do imagine Facebook has tried to build some very self-serving partnership deals with Indian companies to make this thing work financially for both Facebook and their Indian partners. Wouldn’t anybody?

bob (profile) says:

Re: Re:

it’s because he’s a fishmonger, not a teacher.
a business selling pots will not teach you to make your own pots.
unless they sold you the clay.
but then why not teach you to make your own clay, and they’ll sell you the tools.
or teach you to make your own tools and….
maybe they just want to sell pots.
if you don’t want their pots because they come with their own flowers, don’t but the pots. simple as that.
no one is forcing anything on you.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

but then why not teach you to make your own clay, and they’ll sell you the tools.

I can tell from that you’ve never been a potter. I have. Clay’s just the raw material that a potter digs out of the ground, and possibly fiddles with in some way to get it to do whatever it is he wants. That may be introducing some other type of dirt/clay to give the raw material different properties than nature provided, or mixing in already fired, crushed pottery bits (grog) that gives it better heat handling characteristics. This stuff has to handle like about 1700 degrees fahrenheit in a kiln. Too little, and it won’t vitrify. Too much, and it’ll just melt like glass. Then there’s the clays themselves and their properties. Rich iron red is way different from “fine bone china” porcelain.

I won’t even bother to start on glaze technology (imagine baking or sucking the oxygen out of silver or copper oxide) or cool techniques like Raku. I could spend weeks going on about it. And then, there’s the tech that lets a potter throw pottery. I love Shimpo wheels. Stick shift speed control, no foot power needed, variable/constant speed, gargle, gargle, gargle, …

I wanted to spend my life as a potter, preferably doing Raku, but there wasn’t a living in it, so I settled for programming and IT as a close second.

Perl or C can be pretty cool, but Raku’s to die for, and pottery lasts way longer than any programmer’s code will.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
04:48 Dumb Telecom Take Of The Week: Because The Internet Didn't Explode, Killing Net Neutrality Must Not Have Mattered (23)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
04:55 Axios Parrots A Lot Of Dumb, Debunked Nonsense About Net Neutrality (54)
10:50 NY AG Proves Broadband Industry Funded Phony Public Support For Attack On Net Neutrality (10)
06:24 The GOP Is Using Veterans As Props To Demonize Net Neutrality (22)
06:03 Telecom Using Veterans As Props To Demonize California's New Net Neutrality Law (12)
09:32 AT&T Whines That California Net Neutrality Rules Are Forcing It To Behave (11)
06:23 The New York Times (Falsely) Informs Its 7 Million Readers Net Neutrality Is 'Pointless' (51)
15:34 Facebook's Australian News Ban Did Demonstrate The Evil Of Zero Rating (18)
04:58 'Net Neutrality Hurt Internet Infrastructure Investment' Is The Bad Faith Lie That Simply Won't Die (11)
05:48 Dumb New GOP Talking Point: If You Restore Net Neutrality, You HAVE To Kill Section 230. Just Because! (66)
06:31 DOJ Drops Ridiculous Trump-Era Lawsuit Against California For Passing Net Neutrality Rules (13)
06:27 The Wall Street Journal Kisses Big Telecom's Ass In Whiny Screed About 'Big Tech' (13)
10:45 New Interim FCC Boss Jessica Rosenworcel Will Likely Restore Net Neutrality, Just Not Yet (5)
15:30 Small Idaho ISP 'Punishes' Twitter And Facebook's 'Censorship' ... By Blocking Access To Them Entirely (81)
05:29 A Few Reminders Before The Tired Net Neutrality Debate Is Rekindled (13)
06:22 U.S. Broadband Speeds Jumped 90% in 2020. But No, It Had Nothing To Do With Killing Net Neutrality. (12)
12:10 FCC Ignores The Courts, Finalizes Facts-Optional Repeal Of Net Neutrality (19)
10:46 It's Opposite Day At The FCC: Rejects All Its Own Legal Arguments Against Net Neutrality To Claim It Can Be The Internet Speech Police (13)
12:05 Blatant Hypocrite Ajit Pai Decides To Move Forward With Bogus, Unconstitutional Rulemaking On Section 230 (178)
06:49 FCC's Pai Puts Final Bullet In Net Neutrality Ahead Of Potential Demotion (25)
06:31 The EU Makes It Clear That 'Zero Rating' Violates Net Neutrality (6)
06:22 DOJ Continues Its Quest To Kill Net Neutrality (And Consumer Protection In General) In California (11)
11:08 Hypocritical AT&T Makes A Mockery Of Itself; Says 230 Should Be Reformed For Real Net Neutrality (28)
06:20 Trump, Big Telecom Continue Quest To Ban States From Protecting Broadband Consumers (19)
06:11 Senators Wyden And Markey Make It Clear AT&T Is Violating Net Neutrality (13)
06:31 Net Neutrali-what? AT&T's New Streaming Service Won't Count Against Its Broadband Caps. But Netflix Will. (25)
06:23 Telecom's Latest Dumb Claim: The Internet Only Works During A Pandemic Because We Killed Net Neutrality (49)
13:36 Ex-FCC Staffer Says FCC Authority Given Up In Net Neutrality Repeal Sure Would Prove Handy In A Crisis (13)
06:27 Clarence Thomas Regrets Brand X Decision That Paved Way For The Net Neutrality Wars (11)
More arrow