The Telecom Regularity Authority of India received nearly 24 lakh responses from Facebook and other independent mails but they have not addressed the broader question the regulators had raised, as mentioned in a report of The Economic Times.
Nearly 18 lakh responses have come in favour of Free Basics while closely 5 lakh people have voiced their support for net neutrality platforms like savetheinternet.in and independent emails.
A fiercely-contested debate on net neutrality has taken place on social media for quite sometime. Facebook started sending notifications for signing up for Free Basics in the online account of its users. Activists of net neutrality used the social media to raise to reflect the true colours of the Free Basics.
The Facebook empire took on these activist with full fledged advertisements on newspapers and hoardings.
Since its India launch this May, Free Basics (Internet.org) had come in for criticism for being a “walled garden” for its limited number of partners and single service provider.
In trying to convince people to sign up for Facebook's initiative, the company says that "Free Basics is in danger in India." The statement had the internet activists up in arms.
But the social media giant also launched an aggressive campaign with ads on TV, billboards, newspapers -- trying to show how Free Basics was for the poor and underprivileged but even that backfired badly.
Also part of the campaign was a pop-up that exhorted you to save 'Free Basics' when you logged in to Facebook. And more than enough people sent their letters to Trai without even realising what they were doing. More than anything else, that explains the huge disparity in the number of emails that reached the telecom regulator.
Net Neutrality, in stark contrast, meant that you had to go savetheinternet.in, click to go to the submission page and then send the mail. A bit more work that most of us are too lazy to do.
Now, the counter comments will begin and Trai usually puts the submissions online. That will be another chance to know where this debate is next headed.