India Blocks Facebook's Free Basics App

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The Indian telecoms regulator has banned Facebook’s Free Basics app in the country. Free Basics, previously known as Internet.org, offered free internet access to certain websites including Facebook, Wikipedia, and news sites, as well as music, government, sports, weather, travel and parenting sites. It had faced widespread criticism in the country amidst concerns about internet neutrality, however, with some commentators saying that it was wrong that companies could charge different prices to access different websites. The regulator’s ruling has gone in favour of these concerns. The ruling states that “no service provider shall offer or charge discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content”, thereby banning Facebook’s Free Basics service in the country, as well as any other service that allows free internet access to some websites but not others. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed his disappointment at the ruling but said he was still committed to helping connect more Indians to the internet. An estimated 375 million Indians currently have access to the internet, less than a third of the country’s population. 

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