Centre for Internet & Society

Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), India’s leading internet advocacy body, which has often been critical of Facebook’s Internet.org — now called Free Basics — initiative, has said that it is looking into the possibility of Facebook helping telecom companies through its auto-play video option.

The article by Prabhu Mallikarjunan was published in the Financial Express on October 28, 2015. Sunil Abraham gave inputs.

In an interaction with FE on Tuesday, Sunil Abraham, executive director of The Centre for Internet and Society, said CIS will inititiate research on the notion that the new video option will result in 50% increase in data billing for the telecom companies. It will also look into whether this, in turn, will encourage the telecom companies to be on the Internet.org platform.

This initiative from CIS comes on the eve of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to India on Wednesday, where he will address a gathering at IIT, Delhi. Facebook has been trying to hard sell the Free Basics concept at a time when the Indian government is looking to work closely with the internet major to push the Digital India initiative. “The company (Facebook) has done some good things, and also done some not so good things. The good thing is that, they have changed the name of the application and called it Free Basics. Also, they have re-enabled https and have published “the technical requirements document, through which they have eliminated the exclusivity arm both on the telco end and for OTT (Over the top) players,” Abraham said.

“How does FB gain from making the videos autoplay. It doesn’t gain. Why should the telcos be made happy? We are looking into this theory of whether auto-play video option will result in 50% increase in data billing for the telecom companies,” Abraham said.