Facebook Free Basics Accused of Collecting Metadata, Violating Net Neutrality

Facebook Free Basics Accused of Collecting Metadata, Violating Net Neutrality

When Free Basics was launched in India by Facebook, it met with a lot criticism, the big bone of contention being its alleged violation of net neutrality by being a zero-rating platform that offered free access to a limited number of services. There were also worries that Facebook was using the service to collect more data on users, and about what the social network’s ulterior motives could be. Eventually, the service was shut down last year, after many rightful protests from Internet activists in the country. Now, a report outlines all the things that are wrong with Facebook’s Free Basics including violation of net neutrality, non-promotion of local content, and collecting metadata of users.

For those unaware, Free Basics is a free Internet access platform by Facebook that has been available in over 60 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It aims to bridge the digital divide by giving users free access to a handful of online services, such as Accu Weather, BBC News and Wikipedia.

However, a report from Global Voices outlines how Free Basics fails to meet its aim, violating net neutrality in the process, and does not really show the true potential of the open Internet, and the advantages it can bring to the people who are offline. Global Voices set up a team of researchers in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines to test the app, and ascertain its potential for the non-Internet users. This team has now published a full report on Free Basics, and has mainly outlined all the limitations associated with it.

First up, the report claims that Free Basics does not meet the linguistic needs of…

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