India blocks Facebook Free Basics | The Daily Star
05:34 PM, February 08, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:39 PM, February 08, 2016

India blocks Facebook Free Basics internet scheme

India's telecoms regulator has blocked Facebook's Free Basics internet service inside the country.

The scheme offered free access to a limited number of websites.

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However it was opposed by supporters of net neutrality who argued that data providers should not favour some online services over others.

The free content included pages from selected local news and weather forecast providers, the BBC, Wikipedia and various health services.

Facebook has been contacted for comment.

Vikas Pandey, digital producer for the BBC in India, said there had been an intense publicity campaign on both sides of the debate, with Facebook taking out front page advertising in national newspapers to defend the scheme.

"The people who live in cities and are aggressive users of the internet said: 'You can't dictate the terms, give free internet to villagers and then tell them how to use it'," he said.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has maintained that it is "not sustainable to offer the whole internet for free".

The firm previously said it believed the project, which it launched in 2013 as Internet.org and was offered in 36 countries, has brought more than 15 million people online who would not otherwise have been able to afford access.

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