We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, December 31, 2015

'Free Basics' Will Take Away More Than Our Right to the Internet

Click here to access article by Vandana Shiva from Common Dreams. (Note: Shiva uses a couple of abbreviations commonly used in India: "SEZ" and "TRAI".)

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.