Debrief of “Zero Rating: ‘Access for All’ or Curbing Freedom of Expression?”

So, this is like a strange version of “Sophie’s Choice”….

Free Basics: “Free Basics by Facebook provides people with access to useful services on their mobile phones in markets where internet access may be less affordable. The websites are available for free without data charges, and include content on things like news, employment, health, education and local information. By introducing people to the benefits of the [I]nternet through these websites, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.” Free Basics by Facebook

Zero Rating: “In a nutshell, zero-rating plans exempt particular data from counting against a user’s data cap, or from accruing any excess usage charges. The most dangerous of these plans, such as the AT&T and Verizon offerings, only offer their users zero-rated data from content providers who pay the carriers money to do so.” Zero Rating: What It Is and Why You Should Care

Also important from that EFF article:

Legal Status of Zero Rating

Why is this important? Because the law doesn’t treat all zero rating in the same way. Under the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) order of March 2015, the legality of zero rating falls within the legal grey area of the FCC’s “general conduct” rule, which demands a case-by-case analysis to determine whether the conduct causes unreasonable discrimination or disadvantage, based on an array of factors including effects on end-user control, competition, consumer protection, innovation and free expression.”

Is this anti-choice? Is this “poor Internet for poor people” (an audience member’s words). 

Considering my audience, some might actually not even know these are issues (they only caught major public attention recently). So, now it’s on your radar, and here’s the “somewhere between cliff’s notes and Twitter” version:

The panelists essentially made the (necessary) jump to the human rights implications. Are they bad because the service provider (Zero Rating) or Facebook (Free Basics) essentially decides what content an entire socioeconomic group of people has access to? Or is what they provide “better than nothing”

Think on that – I certainly will 🙂

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