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Andy Mukherjee

Zuckerberg's Indian Mousetrap

Free online access promises Facebook a lock on users and will inhibit innovation.

China doesn't allow Facebook. Just because India does, that doesn't mean the country should welcome Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plan to carve the Internet into pocket boroughs, let alone his preaching that this is a great way to connect a billion people to their digital future.

Facebook's "Free Basics" service, which gave some wireless subscribers in India access to a clutch of pre-selected websites without having to pay data charges, was put in abeyance recently at the request of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Activists say the program threatens net neutrality, the principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible. The regulator is yet to decide whether a differential pricing regime for some websites or applications will be allowed.