[UPDATE] After this story was published, Facebook got in touch with Digit and stated, “Hundreds of millions of people in India use the Internet every day and understand the benefits it can bring. This campaign's goal is to give these people the opportunity to support digital equality in India and help connect the billion who remain offline by giving them a voice in the public debate that is being held by The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on differential pricing for data services.”
Facebook has launched a campaign to save its Free Basics platform from being banned in India. The campaign asks users to send an email to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) stating their support for the platform. Facebook claims, "Free Basics is a first step in connecting 1 billion Indians to the opportunities online, and achieving digital equality in India. But without your support, it could be banned in a matter of weeks." It defended the platform by saying that it offers important services to users without any data charges. Facebook says that the platform is aimed at people who are unable to pay for data, and it is open to all people, developers and bloggers. Facebook also mentioned Free Basics’ critics, stating that they are demanding everyone to pay equally for all internet services, rather than providing basic services to certain users for free.
The pre-written message that will be mailed to TRAI reads, "To the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, I support digital equality for India. Free Basics provides free access to essential Internet services, such as communication, education, healthcare, employment, farming information and more. It helps those who can't afford to pay for data, or who need a little help with getting started online. And it's open to all people, developers and mobile networks. With 1 billion Indian people not yet connected, shutting down Free Basics would hurt our country's most vulnerable people. I support Free Basics and digital equality for India. Thank you."
Last month, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Free Basics would be available to all Reliance subscribers across India. The service was initially available only in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Zuckerberg also talked about the platform during the Townhall Q&A that was held at IIT Delhi. He said that Internet.org supported net neutrality, and the stories about it limiting internet and internet rights was not true. He added, "The operators have spent billions of dollars on the infrastructure and so you cannot get the complete internet for free."
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