Internet.org, available to 18 countries already now, aims at internet connectivity reaching all the unprivileged parts of the world. To make it happen, the privileged parts should use internet.org. The Internet connectivity here does not indicate “complete” connectivity. Along with services of Facebook, it only refers to a bunch of sites offering information on services of health, education and job listings. Since these bunch of sites need Facebook approval, the criticism about Internet.org being against net neutrality arose.
The earlier Internet.org had less than 50 websites , approved by Facebook, linked to it. An addition to net neutrality concerns were problems related to security and privacy of the users.
Facebook rebranded the app and the website to “Free Basics” by Facebook. The change intended to indicate “Free Basics” to be just a venture of a larger project, Internet.org and not the Internet itself. Facebook has responded quite quickly to address the issues risen.
The new Free Basics includes wider set of websites now. 60 new services have been added to the list and the platform is kept open to all developers giving them greater flexibility. The major improvements under security were encrypting of data at all places possible. The HTTP protocol has been replaced with the secure HTTPS in android app and the web version, both.
Even now there are a few notable points that stop us from calling this venture as an act that will benefit the society. In India, the Free Basics is only available to users who use internet services provided by Reliance. There is another dubious event which has spread like wildfire on net. Zuckerberg has been blamed for stealing peoples’ support for Digital India as that for ‘his’ Internet.org. An initiative of Government, Digital India is about developing India in the aspects of internet connectivity. You want to support this? Click on fb.com/supportdigitalindia, generate a tricolour picture and another click to set it as your DP. The point of conflict has risen about nomenclature. A class with name “internetOrgProfilePicture_prideAvatar” has been defined in the source code of this. This is no solid proof of actual support-stealing, but it surely is adequate for igniting suspicion. Were you out of names, Zuckerberg?
Though the objective seems very noble its implementation hasn’t been so. Just altering the name and a few things here and there do not change the overall incentive, its impacts and public opinion!