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Mark Zuckerberg Responds To India's Decision To Ban Free Basics

On Monday, Indian regulators ruled to ban Facebook's Free Basics Internet service—but Zuckerberg says that won't keep Facebook out of India.

[Source Photo: Flickr User Vinoth Chandar]

On Monday afternoon, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to the decision by Indian regulators to ban the social media giant's Free Basics app, which offers limited Internet access to people in emerging countries. The move capped a lengthy tug-of-war between Facebook and India's Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI), which believes that Free Basics compromises net neutrality, the idea that Internet users should be granted equal access to all content.

In a Facebook post defending Free Basics, Zuckerberg wrote: "Connecting India is an important goal we won't give up on, because more than a billion people in India don't have access to the Internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs, and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that's why we're so committed to connecting them."

The controversy surrounding Free Basics is a result of Facebook having control over which sites are included in the app. In other words, the company's notion of giving people free access to the Internet is to offer them an app that features only Facebook-sanctioned content.

Below is Zuckerberg's post in full:

Everyone in the world should have access to the Internet.

That's why we launched Internet.org with so many different initiatives—including extending networks through solar-powered planes, satellites and lasers, providing free data access through Free Basics, reducing data use through apps, and empowering local entrepreneurs through Express Wi-Fi.

Today India's telecom regulator decided to restrict programs that provide free access to data. This restricts one of Internet.org's initiatives, Free Basics, as well as programs by other organizations that provide free access to data.

While we're disappointed with today's decision, I want to personally communicate that we are committed to keep working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world. Internet.org has many initiatives, and we will keep working until everyone has access to the internet.

Our work with Internet.org around the world has already improved many people's lives. More than 19 million people in 38 countries have been connected through our different programs.

Connecting India is an important goal we won't give up on, because more than a billion people in India don't have access to the Internet. We know that connecting them can help lift people out of poverty, create millions of jobs, and spread education opportunities. We care about these people, and that's why we're so committed to connecting them.

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. That mission continues, and so does our commitment to India.