Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has raised the ire of activists in India to what they see as another corporate attempt to exploit their society for profits.
Facebook’s Free Basics is a repackaged internet.org, or in other words, a system where Facebook decides what parts of the internet are important to users.These activists have already witnessed the devastation that Monsanto Corporation has caused for farming in India (see numerous articles by Colin Todhunter by entering his name in one of my search boxes), and they don't like his latest profit-making effort to act as a gatekeeper to limit what people see over the internet.
Vandana Shiva has been one of the most vocal critics of this trend of corporate takeover and makeover of Indian society. As a strident critic of Monsanto Corporation and frankenfoods produced by using grains from Monsanto's bio-engineered crops, she writes:
The right to the internet is the right to choose what spaces and media we access; to choose spaces that enrich us — not what companies think should be our ‘basics’.
Our right to know what we are eating is as essential our right to information, all information. Our right to an open internet is as essential to our democracy as our right to save, exchange and sell open pollinated farmers’ seeds.
In the ultimate Orwellian doublespeak, “free” for Zuckerberg means “privatised”, a far cry from privacy — a word Zuckerberg does not believe in. And like corporate-written “free” trade agreements, Free Basics is anything but free for citizens. It is an enclosure of the commons, which are ‘commons’ because they guarantee access to the commoner, whether it be seed, water, information or internet. What Monsanto’s IPRs [Intellectual Property Rights] are to seed, Free Basics is to information.