After India’s recent shutdown of Facebook’s free internet service for developing countries, Egypt followed suit this week. A part of Internet.org, Facebook’s free internet access initiative, Free Basics was only launched two months ago and over 3 million people had signed up for it.
Also Read: Facebook Launches Internet.org in Tanzania
Reports have been circulating that the shutdown follows the expiry of a permit that wasn’t renewed, but there have also been indications that is related to criticism that Free Basics doesn’t adhere to net neutrality. The service offers free access to Facebook and some other websites, and this has created a backlash from some internet activists and national regulators who have called this into question.
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Facebook has always defended itself and has clearly stated that Free Basics adheres to net neutrality rules and actually gives people more of a choice – opponents don’t seem convinced. Either way, it is not actually clear why the service has been discontinued by Etisslat Egypt, or WHO actually gave the order for it to be shut down. Facebook released the following announcement, but does not spell out what the issue actually is,
We’re disappointed that Free Basics will no longer be available in Egypt,”
and that it hopes to
resolve this situation soon.
It is unclear if this will happen either, as we are not even sure about the reason in the first place. With two countries having already shut down the service, is this enough to make Facebook nervous about the future of its initiative? What do you think about Internet.org and Free Basics?