Chairman and founder of the largest social site in the world, Mark Zuckerberg, has written a blog post published on The Times of India, defending the benefits of free basics – an internet program aimed at connecting about one billion people who do not have the money to access the internet daily to certain free services such as healthcare, education, jobs, and communication.
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Zuckerberg anchored his points on the fact that access to free basic internet services may not provide all that an individual needs from the internet – unless an individual pays for access – but it will sure solve some of the basic problems associated with basic education, healthcare, communication, and jobs among others.
Facebook’s CEO stated that free basic education may not provide university graduates or academic specialists, but still helps every child to go to school; free basic healthcare in public hospitals may not offer every treatment, yet saves some lives; just as libraries may not have all required books, but contain enough to enlighten the mind.
And this is the logic behind Free Basics from Facebook – free internet access to basic information and tools can help people to obtain most other services they require for a breakthrough in life, just as it safeguards their fundamental social and economic rights.
“We know that when people have access to the internet they also get access to jobs, education, healthcare, communication,” Zuckerberg explains. “We know that for every 10 people connected to the internet, roughly one is lifted out of poverty. We know that for India to make progress, more than 1 billion people need to be connected to the internet. That’s not theory. That’s fact.”
The social media chief clarified that Facebook within the past one year has partnered with mobile operators, apps developers, and civil society in over 30 countries around the world to solve the problem of paid internet accessibility and to offer assistance on how the internet changes the lives of users – without necessarily paying for data.
While noting that some antagonists are against Free Basics in India, Zuckerberg emphasized that the program is the bridge to the full internet and enables people to overcome the digital divide. And apart from these, the program is consistent with Net Neutrality, and it does not hurt to have free access to the internet.
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“We’ve heard legitimate concerns in the past, and we’ve quickly addressed those. We’re open to other approaches and encourage innovation,” Zuckerberg said. “But today this program is creating huge benefits for people and the entire internet ecosystem. There’s no valid basis for denying people the choice to use Free Basics, and that’s what thousands of people across India have chosen to tell TRAI over the last few weeks.”