Egypt Follows India: Denies Permit to Facebook's Free Basics
After India, FacebookFB is now facing trouble in Egypt where its 'Free Basics' initiative was suspended yesterday. Per media reports, Egyptian telecommunications ministry did not renew the permit required to keep the service operational.
Facebook received the permit, in collaboration with the telecom carrier Etisalat Egypt, for a period of two months that expired on Dec 30. Though the exact reasons behind the denial were not been declared, the government clarified it was not because of security issues.
Nonetheless, Free Basics has been facing a lot of criticism, of late, as some argue that it contradicts the Net Neutrality rules adopted by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) earlier this year. The initiative would provide users access to a few selected apps which, according to net neutrality advocates, would give the social media giant significant control over what sites and apps people access.
In fact, this became a major bone of contention in India. Last week, the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI) asked Facebook's operator partner, Reliance Communications, to "put on hold" the Free Basics services in the country for now.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his stance saying, "This isn't about Facebook's commercial interests - there aren't even any ads in the version of Facebook in Free Basics. If people lose access to free basic services, they will simply lose access to the opportunities offered by the internet today."
According to Facebook's data, nearly 3 million people in Egypt had availed of Free Basics, of which 1 million were first time Internet users.
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