Net neutrality is a touchy subject, just ask Mark Zuckerberg. Although his Internet.org project aims to bring a form of free Internet access to people in developing nations, this free access is limited to certain website, with Facebook obviously being the primary website. This has drawn massive amounts of criticism from net neutrality advocates, enough that Zuckerberg was actually forced to address the criticism, but not everyone thinks Internet.org is a bad idea.
Frankly, I’ve been taken aback by the wave of criticism and negative publicity that has surrounded Internet.org. In India, a campaign against the initiative by digital rights group Save the Internet managed to gather over a million signatures in three weeks. Eventually, 67 digital rights groups from across the world wrote an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, saying “The economic boom and revolution in connectivity that the internet created in developed countries needs to be shared equally with the next three billion people.” Similar protests have also been witnessed in other countries, with Indonesian telco XL Axiata giving a painstaking explanation as to why it was quitting the initiative, citing “controversies and concerns over the business model.” It is possible to see why people may not like Internet.org. The service offers access to a number of pre-determined sites and portals. Unsurprisingly, access to Facebook is at the top of the list. Internet.org does not allow users to determine their own preferences and it is this limited access that has people talking eagerly about net neutrality and restrictions on open expression. However, I still cannot fathom why it has attracted such venomous hate and outright derision.