IIT, IISc faculty slams Free Basics

Wants TRAI to 'thoroughly' reject Facebook's gimmick as it violates core architectural principles of net neutrality

Kolkata: Academicians from India’s premier institutes IITs and IISc have slammed Facebook’s Free Basics initiative, terming it ‘flawed’ and ‘misleading’. In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, around 50 faculty members from IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kharagpur, Madras, Patna) and IISc Bengaluru have denounced the proposal dubbing it a ‘lethal combination that will lead to total lack of freedom on how Indians can use the Internet’.

Listing three major flaws in the programme, the scientists urged the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to ‘thoroughly reject’ Free Basics proposal.

A statement issued by them reads: "The first obvious flaw in the proposal is that Facebook assumes control of defining what a ‘basic’ service is. It will have access to all your apps’ contents. This flaw is not visible to the layman, as it’s a technical detail, but it has deep and disturbing implications. Second, since Facebook can access un-encrypted contents of users’ ‘basic’ services, either we get to consider health apps to be not basic, or risk revealing health records of all Indians to Facebook. The third flaw is that the term ‘free’ is a marketing gimmick."

The academicians said Free Basics proposal is flawed, as it violates one of the core architectural principles of Internet design: net neutrality.

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