Zuckerberg bats for net neutrality at IIT Delhi

RSTV Bureau

ZuckerbergFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is in India, attended a Townhall Q&A with students at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi on Wednesday afternoon.

While engaging with the students of the premier IT institute, Zuckerberg said that he continues to ‘lobby’ for net neutrality across the world. Even as Facebook’s pet project internet.org which plans to provide limited free internet access to people under Free Basics programme continues to face criticism, the tech billionaire empahasised on the need for net neutrality and free access to internet.

“We do a lot to support (net neutrality) in terms of regulations, we are working on building an open framework…” said Zuckerberg in the Question and Answer session at the event.

“We lobby for it (net neutrality) across the world but at the same time, we continue to push for access,” he added at the interaction.

Facebook’s Internet.org platform, which was recently rebranded as Free Basics, has come under fire from Internet activists.

Free Basics supplies a minimum amount of internet without data charges and is currently available in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia.

The activists feel that it violates the principle of net neutrality, that is against any priority being accorded to an entity in Internet traffic flow on account of payments to service providers like telecom companies.

Referring to the activists fighting for net neutrality, the billionaire said “people who are pushing with the petitions already have access to the internet and people who don’t have internet can’t sign an online petition asking for access.”

“You can’t provide the whole Internet for free and we are not bringing a filter to any content that goes in it (in Free Basics). We need to get people on to the internet,” he added.

Answering a question regarding the controversies over Internet.org, Zuckerberg said, “Internet is expensive for carriers. What we are trying to do is offer low-bandwidth services. It’ll be a neutral platform and we won’t be a filter.”

Zuckerberg further said: “Internet.org is live in more than 24 countries and 15 million people have access to Internet now with Internet.org. That’s a pretty good number… Almost 1 million people in India have access to Internet (through Internet.org).” he said.

Highlighting the importance of the Indian market for the world’s largest social media firm, he said the country plays a huge role in its “mission of connecting a billion people” to the Internet.

“When you have a mission of connecting a billion people, you cannot do it without India,” Zuckerberg said.

“India is the world’s largest democracy and we have 130 million users here. Its a mission for us to help provide access to Internet,” said the young billionaire on his visit to India.

(With inputs from PTI)