‘Say NO to Free Basics’, Says Father of the Internet
Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the world wide web or the internet, as we know it, is obviously the man with the clearest idea about what the internet really stands for, and what it was meant to be. As reported by The Guardian, Berners-Lee says that consumers should ‘just say no’ to initiatives like Facebook’s Free Basics (formerly known as Internet.org), because programs like that are not the full internet, contrary to what they would rather have you believe.
Recently, Berners-Lee delivered a speech at the Web We Want Festival in Southbank, London. Web We Want promotes five key principles for the future of the web. These are :
- Freedom of expression online and offline.
- Affordable internet access.
- Protection of user data and privacy.
- A decentralised internet infrastructure.
- Net neutrality.
Berners-Lee said that he tends to say ‘just say no’ when it comes to compromising on net neutrality. He also added, “In the particular case of somebody who’s offering something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no. No it isn’t free, no it isn’t in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something. (Only) giving people data connectivity to part of the network, deliberately, I think is a step backwards.”
Free Basics by Facebook aims to bring the ‘next billion people online by providing them free access to a limited section of the internet.’ Well, that’s what they claim. What it will really do is split the internet into two forms – paid and unpaid, which immediately goes against the concept of net neutrality, according to which all data on the internet should be treated equally. It is important for us to understand this and fight for what we can consider as our right – freedom on the internet, or net neutrality. We urge the public to not be fooled by these false promises, and speak up against initiatives like Free Basics.