NEW DELHI – India introduced rules on Monday to prevent Internet service providers from having different pricing policies for accessing different parts of the Web, in a setback to Facebook Inc’s plan to roll out a pared-back free Internet service to the masses.
The new rules came after a two-month-long consultation process that saw Facebook launching a big advertising campaign in support of its Free Basics programme, which runs in more than 35 developing countries.
The programme offers pared-down Internet services on mobile phones, along with access to the company’s own social network and messaging services, without charge.
The service, earlier known as internet.org, has also run into trouble in other countries that have accused Facebook of infringing the principle of net neutrality – the concept that all websites and data on the Internet be treated equally.
ritics and Internet activists argue that allowing access to a select few apps and Web services for free would put small content providers and start-ups that don’t participate at a disadvantage.
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