FB-TRAI face-off over Free Ba­sics con­tin­ues

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Correspondent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Tele­com Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity of In­dia ( TRAI) has crit­i­cised pop­u­lar so­cial net­work­ing site Face­book, say­ing it was in­flu­enc­ing the coun­try’s pol­icy-mak­ing process through a “crudely ma­jori­tar­ian and or­ches­trated opin­ion poll”.

Also, the watch­dog dis­missed al­le­ga­tion that it has un­sub­scribed emails of mil­lions of peo­ple con­tain­ing sup­port to Face­book’s con­tro­ver­sial Free Ba­sics con­cept that be­lieves in spread­ing In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity us­ing its plat­form in ar­range­ment with tele­com oper­a­tors by of­fer­ing free ac­cess to var­i­ous web­sites on news, health, education and en­ter­tain­ment.

TRAI’s at­tempts to re­view the Free Ba­sics ser­vice, which has gained pub­lic sup­port, have trig­gered on­line out­rage.

The tele­com reg­u­la­tor re­it­er­ated that it be­lieves in pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion and ques­tioned the re­sponses sent by peo­ple us­ing Face­book. TRAI said use of its plat­form does not “au­tho­rise” Face­book to speak on their be­half.

“Nei­ther the spirit nor the let­ter of a con­sul­ta­tive process war­rants such an in­ter­pre­ta­tion which, if ac­cepted has dan­ger­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions for pol­icy-mak­ing in In­dia,” states the let­ter sent to Ankhi Das, di­rec­tor pub­lic pol­icy, In­dia, South and Cen­tral Asia, Face­book In­dia.

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