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“Free Basics” is evidence that Mark Zuckerberg is misinformed about Net Neutrality?

Recently, There has been an ongoing debate about Net Neutrality with regards to the proposed “Free Basics” plan by Facebook CEO, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg. While, I certainly appreciate what Facebook has achieved in networking the world, there are several things that I am not in agreement with Facebook’s policies which threaten the independence of Internet. In this blog, I would like to highlight those issues which are clear evidence of the fact that ‘Free Basics’ as claimed by Mr. Mark Zuckerberg is actually a plan devised to jeopardize the independence of Internet. Perhaps, It also highlights the necessity for Facebook CEO, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg to understand the real meaning of Net Neutrality so that he can let other CEOs become equally successful like him by not jeopardizing the independence of the Internet.

Let me begin this discussion by highlighting a few important things which demonstrate my expertise on this subject so that I can make the recommendations.

  1. In my 2014 volume ‘Mass Capitalism: A Blueprint for Economic Revival’ , I analyzed the ongoing crisis in global semiconductor industry due to violation of common sense Macroeconomics resulting in a poor economic demand. In that volume, I also made a case for sustainable progress of Moore’s Law and precautions that need to be adopted while designing Internet Policies learning from the experience of semiconductor industry.
  2. I have further elaborated on these and also proposed a free market economic model for ushering the 4th industrial revolution in form of The Internet of Things (IoT)in my second volume ‘Sustaining Moore’s Law: Uncertainty Leading to a Certainty of IoT Revolution’ published by Morgan & Claypool publishers. In my 2015 volume, I have covered almost every aspect of business that needs to be addressed while formulating the macroeconomic policies in order to preserve Net Neutrality for ushering IoT revolution.

I take pride in mentioning that I have been approached by several reputed publications, made Cover story of technical Magazine as well have become one of thought leaders with regards to Net Neutrality. Here are a few examples of my accomplishments –

  1. Cover Story for Dec 2014  (Vol 6, Issue 11) issue of Technical Support Magazine NASPA  ‘Why Most Experts Fear for the Future of Technology’ Edited for members of the Network and Systems Professionals Association and information technology professionals who purchase, implement, support, and manage products and services for operating environments. Provides hands-on, technical strategies and solutions to make systems run more effectively. Editorial focuses on internetworking issues for host-based and network operating systems with an emphasis on facilitating migration to distributed computing environments, emerging technologies, and maximizing a site’s mainframe investment.
  2. Feb 2015 Issue of The Costco Connection – “Do we need regulations to preserve Network Neutrality?” Established in 1987 and published for the members of the Costco network of membership warehouse clubs. Features articles on business trends, companies, travel, arts and entertainment, food, humor, personal finance, health and fitness, small business, inspirational stories, as well as the communities served by Costco to aid members in their business and the business of living.
  3. Nov 2014 EBN OnlineWhy Net Neutrality Preserves a Free-Market Economy for IoT Success Mass capitalism-based reforms offer a free-market solution to achieve net neutrality for the IoT with minimal government intervention, a smaller government, and lower taxes on individuals.
  4. December 2014 TechRadarWhy net neutrality opens the door to the free market capitalism debateA controversial stance by Apek Mulay.
  5. October 2015 EBN OnlineDollars & Sense: Debating With the IoT Experts

Some bloggers like Elliot Maras from Fodlogistics.com has also cited me in their work due to my expertise on this subject. By Elliot Maras 19 Nov 2014 Foodlogistics.com – How Important Is Net Neutrality To Supply Chain Innovation?

It was necessary that I establish my expertise on this subject before making recommendations. Now that I have established my expertise on this subject, let me quote from my first volume Mass Capitalism: A Blueprint for Economic Revival, which would be self explanatory of the fact that the ‘Free Basics’ by Facebook for poor in India goes against the principles of Net Neutrality even though Mark Zuckerberg claims that he supports both ‘Free Basics’ and ‘Net Neutrality’. He can support one not both!!!

As I mentioned in my first volume,

‘Today, some of the biggest Internet companies, like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, are cashing in on the very rules of engagement that made them so successful as small businesses. These companies are making available the big data that pass through their system and the data that are transmitted by the masses to commercial bidders and businesses, which use it for targeted advertising and marketing campaigns, research efforts, the development of new goods and services, and a host of other commercial propositions. These companies are, in effect, misusing personal data from the masses for their commercial ends.’

While, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg claims that ‘Free Basics’ is a medium to help productivity to reach the poor and impoverished in India, let it be a reminder to Mr. Zuckerberg that ‘Nothing is free in a Free Market Economy’. If anybody gets things for free, somebody else pays for it. Although, Facebook’s Zuckerberg claims that it is essential for productivity to reach the poor through ‘Free Basics’, the poor will only get the PRODUCTIVITY while Facebook will get the WAGES from that productivity through their targeted advertising and marketing from personal data of the masses. Common sense Macroeconomics teaches us that PRODUCTIVITY contributes to only SUPPLY of goods into an economy but it is the WAGES that decide the DEMAND in an economy.

Hence, The ‘Free Basics’ offered by Facebook would eventually make targeted advertising and marketing campaign to the ones who are offered ‘Free Basics’. Since, Only a limited number of internet websites can become be a part of this ‘Free Basics’ that Facebook is implementing with Reliance Communications, this internet policy is NOT a Network Neutral because the websites which are not part of the ‘Free Basics’ will be left out in reaching the poor and impoverished. Hence, It would become an incentive for the top bidder to pay premium to be a part of the ‘Free Basics’. In this way, Big Money will win the game in establish their dominance over Internet and small business will not be able reach those consumers as they cannot pay the premium to be part of the ‘Free Basics’, which is being offered by Facebook in association with Reliance Communications.

Hence, Is ‘Free Basics’ in compliance with policies which preserve Net Neutrality? Absolutely Not.

As an investor and partner with an e-commerce business (http://calcuttahandicraft.in/) and an author of volumes that promote Free Market Capitalism for masses, I emphasize that if IoT revolution has to occur, then there has to be robust growth of small business which lack deep pockets for lobbying the politicians. In this regard, Free Market Economy is critical and as explained in several articles, Net Neutrality preserves Free Market Economy to usher in IoT revolution. In my second volume, I have put forth a three-tier business model which would enable not just productivity from internet to reach the poor and impoverished, but by even their wages with start rising in proportion to productivity. In this way, poverty and unemployment can eventually vanish from developing economies like India.

Hence, I would recommend the Government of India to make an ethically correct decision in banning the ‘Free Basics’ offered by Facebook with Reliance Communications unless it complies with the principles of Free Market economy with Net Neutrality. My proposed three-tier business model could play a critical role in ushering in IoT revolution as part of ‘Digital India’ policy of Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi. My good wishes for establishment of free market capitalism in India by means preserving Net Neutrality.

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About the Author

Apek Mulay is a Sr. Analyst and a Macroeconomist in Semiconductor Industry. He is author of two books “Mass Capitalism: A Blueprint for Economic Revival” and “Sustaining Moore’s Law: Uncertainty Leading to a Certainty of IoT Revolution“. Read more www.ApekMulay.com

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