Internet.org is a project led by Facebook to offer a completely free sub-set of the internet (including, presumably, Facebook itself) to people in emerging markets who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
The article above suggests that the concept has met strong criticism in India because, by zero-rating a sub-set of content (ie not charging end users for the data transmission) but not others it is said to violate the “principle of net neutrality“.
Surely the most ardent advocates of net neutrality would agree that there is no sacrosanct principle at stake here? Net neutrality in and of itself is not a human right. Surely all would agree that if it makes sense at all it’s just a means to an end – the end being making the internet as open to innovation and to new services as possible?
If so then it seems extraordinary to me to criticise this initiative on the basis that it violates some sacred principle. It may well be that internet.org deserves criticism – perhaps it really is a way to entrench facebook’s position in the minds of the not-yet-connected – but debate about it should focus on that not on whether or not in conforms to some arbitrary and invented standard of openness.
This blog piece is of course my own personal opinion.