Indian users of Facebook saw a notification asking them to send an email to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to save “Digital Equality” in the country, after TRAI released a consultation paper about “over-the-top services,” which many say violate net neutrality.
It turns out TRAI isn’t too happy with the thousands of emails it has received, which are all basically identical, following Facebook’s template.
…responses do not indicate that these were in reference to TRAI consultation paper. Furthermore there is no mention of the consultation paper/process at all in the entire response. Neither the spirit nor the letter of a consultative process warrants such an interpretation which, if accepted, has dangerous ramifications for policy-making in India
TRAI also took offense at Facebook attempting to whip up support for Free Basics (previously Internet.org) in this manner.
…your urging has the flavour of reducing this meaningful consultative exercise designed to produce informed decisions in a transparent manner into a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll.
TRAI also feels that Facebook doesn’t have the authority to speak on behalf of its users, as the only thing the user actually consents to is the use of his or her name.
Equally of concern is your self-appointed spokesmanship on behalf of those who have sent responses to TRAI using your platform. It is noticed that you have not been authorized by your users to speak on behalf of them collectively. No disclosure in the act of sending a message to TRAI using your platform to this effect has been issued to users. The only act to which such users have consented is the following:
“By clicking Send Email, you agree to let Facebook send your name and this email to the TRAI.”
This does not our view imply any consent on the part of the user to allow Facebook to speak on their behalf as you have done, urging TRAI to hear “the voice of these millions of Indians.”
Clearly, TRAI is not happy with Facebook’s behavior and it remains to be seen what their next action is. If they choose to dismiss the emails sent by Facebook on behalf of its users from consideration, Free Basics will probably be removed from the country, as it recently was in Egypt.Source: TRAI’s Letter to Facebook
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