Re: [gaia] fb's Free Basics in India

Nick Feamster <feamster@CS.Princeton.EDU> Mon, 28 December 2015 12:13 UTC

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From: Nick Feamster <feamster@CS.Princeton.EDU>
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Date: Mon, 28 Dec 2015 14:13:30 +0200
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To: Jon Crowcroft <jon.crowcroft@cl.cam.ac.uk>
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Cc: "gaia@irtf.org" <gaia@irtf.org>, Richard Dent <rd459@cam.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: [gaia] fb's Free Basics in India
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Agreed, and I hadn’t even thought about point #2.  I don’t use Facebook, and it’s quite frustrating when people/groups/etc. have their “web pages” as Facebook pages that require me to sign up for Facebook just to see a web page.  This happens before pricing even comes into play; what happens when the Facebook webpages are free but other webpages are not? 

One company having increasing control over “the Internet” (or at least what some people think of as the Internet) seems like it carries significant potential for abuse of monopoly in the best case scenario. In the worst cast scenario, governments who want to censors or control the Internet no longer need to play with the ISPs… they can just work quietly with Facebook (often circumventing rule of law, e.g., wiretapping, etc.).

-Nick

> On Dec 28, 2015, at 1:53 PM, Jon Crowcroft <jon.crowcroft@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> 
> Facebook have (at least) two questions to answer:
> 
> 1/ how do they decide transparently, what not to let people get to via "basics"?
> is it something that costs facebook too much, or is it just something that doesn't earn facebook more money (e.g. through advertising revenue)?
> (the regulatory position is obviously more general than this, but I'd just ask this to start with, as I think the idea of not reaching all internet sites that have a public IP is a Very Bad Precedent that better have a Very Good Governance answer).
> 
> 2/  if facebook are so nice, howcome I can't friend someone on another social network directly from my facebook account? frankly, a facebook page is a web page. I can link to anyone's web page from my home page, and they can link to mine. Apps can follow those links. and if the pages have any scripts/active/upload capability, can modify/add info there - so what are the motives for facebook preventing this (and they do)? I can think of some, but I'd like to know their specific business case arguments that an open web (and open social media) is not as good or better than a walled garden (see 1/ :-)
> 
> IP connectivity, and HTTP/URL connectivity are both network economies, and various scaling laws apply (whether you buy Metcalfe's law or the variants). Walled gardens are semi-monopolies, whatever level they operate at. They may not necessarily be evil, but they better operate transparently so the anti-trust people can check they are not just abusing their privileged market position, or they are not welcome in democratic capitalist societies...(or some other societies either:)
> 
> cheers
> jon
> 
> 
> On Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 10:48 AM, Richard Dent <rd459@cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> Zuckerberg responds to the move with editorial:
> http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-edit-page/free-basics-protects-net-neutrality/
> 
> 
> On 23/12/2015 17:51, El Khatib, Yehia (elkhatib) wrote:
>> Tension between Indian telecom regulators and Facebook over its Free Basics program 
>> http://tcrn.ch/1On2V1P 
>> 
>> 
>> /Yehia
>> 
>> 
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> -- 
> PhD Candidate
> Department of Sociology
> University of Cambridge
> 
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> www.openaccessphd.com
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> @richarddent
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