Amid intense debate over net neutrality, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said he is committed to keep the Internet.org open with no restrictions on user’s choices. In a candid admission, he said that his initial plan of Internet.org is changed after the debate over free internet in the US and India.
US ambassador Richard Verma, three MPs from Parliament’s information technology committee, Amitabh Kant from department of industrial policy and promotion secretary, were among the 12 people present in the closed-door meeting with the Facebook CEO where the issue of net neutrality and digital media giant’s controversial Internet.org or Free Basics programme were discussed at length.
“We were really pleased to see that Zuckerberg committed to the basic principles of net neutrality. He assured us that Free Basics will not do any gate-keeping,” said independent Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar.
The standing committee is preparing a report on net neutrality in India. Many members of the panel have so far strongly opposed any attempts by cellular service providers to give preferential treatment to online content for commercial gains.
Anurag Thakur, chairman of the panel, reportedly told Zuckerberg the panel will talk to all sides – consumer forums, government representatives as well as telecom operators -- before preparing their report on net neutrality.
Sources added that Zuckerberg told the audience Facebook expects to invest the lion’s share of its $3 billion fund to improve digital reach in India following what he saw as clearer policies of the government.