Mark Zuckerberg has defended Internet.org, claiming that it poses no threat to net neutrality. The Facebook boss was speaking after a number of Indian firms decided to play no further part in the project. Some companies claim that Internet.org’s services undermine net neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet services should be as accessible as each other. Zuckerberg said: “We fully support net neutrality…universal connectivity and net neutrality can and must co-exist.”
However, he is accused of trying to dupe people into thinking that Facebook and the Internet are essentially the same thing. Internet.org has a policy of ‘zero-rating’. This means that ISPs agree not to pass on data traffic handling costs, allowing people to access certain services for free. However, critics of the initiative say that this will provide publishers signed up to the service with an unfair advantage. Facebook responded that it didn’t prevent anyone from joining the scheme and wanted as many ISPs as possible to sign up to it.
Facebook decides which services will be offered for free after consulting with each country’s “local governments and mobile operators”. The service is designed to help those who cannot afford connectivity to access the internet. Basic free services have been rolled out in India via the Reliance network.