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Companies Leave Facebook Inc (FB)’s Internet.org In India As Net Neutrality Debate Rages On: Sunanda Jayaseelan

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s push to give more people around the world access to the Internet is suffering setbacks in India as net neutrality debates rage on in the country, Sunanda Jayaseelan reports on Bloomberg’s Trending Business.

According to the Bloomberg reporter, many companies in India are leaving Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s Internet.org in what they say are moves to uphold net neutrality, the principle that all traffic on the Internet must be treated the same.

Some people in the country argue that Internet.org violates net neutrality as it essentially gives other services, like applications or business platforms, an unfair advantage over competitors. Under the program, Internet.org will give access to certain partner services and apps with the aim of reaching people who are unable or are not yet able to access these Internet-linked services.

However, Jayaseelan says that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, say that Internet.org is advantageous especially to countries which have large numbers of people who are not connected to the internet. Having some form of Internet connection and ability to share is always much better for those who are not on the Internet than having no ability to connect and share at all, the CEO is quoted by Jayaseelan as saying. Zuckerberg says this is why programs like Internet.org are important and coexist with net neutrality regulations, the reporter adds.

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Recently, India’s largest online e-commerce company, Flipkart, announced it is walking away from a tie-up with India’s largest telecom company, Bharti Airtel’s Airtel Zero in the interest of net neutrality, Jayaseelan says.

This is amid more companies walking away from Internet.org responding to the huge outcry online, she says. Among the companies that have walked away from the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) coalition are online e-commerce site Cleartrip, prominent news channel NDTV, India’s largest publishing company which publishes the Times of India newspaper and media startup NewHunt

Jayaseelan also notes that over 600,000 users, as of Bloomberg’s understanding, have so far sent emails to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India which has called for public comments on a paper it put out on net neutrality as part of the volunteer driven “save the Internet” campaign.

Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management owned about 7.18 million shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) by the end of the last quarter of 2014.

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