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How Facebook, Google will kill small websites under the blanket of Net neutrality

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By Harshmeet Singh

Of the few remaining things in the world that do not discriminate among people, Internet occupies the top spot. Net neutrality lies at the very framework of the Internet. In raw terms, net neutrality simply means that all your websites or data would be treated equally by the ISP, without giving any special preference to a particular website or service.

What’s the harm in taking away net neutrality?

Imagine a scenario where your internet data pack is only applicable to a few websites, and you are required to shell out an extra amount for the data consumed on YouTube and Skype. As absurd as it may seem, this is what some major companies are vouching for.

Forms of net neutrality in developed nations  

In most of the developed nations, where internet speeds are considerably higher and consistent, net neutrality is about all the websites and apps being equally accessible, without any special treatment being given to anyone. The opposition to net neutrality is backed up by a number billion dollar companies who can afford to pay the ISPs to ‘fast-track’ their websites in comparison to their competitors. For instance, only those shopping websites would be given the ‘fast lane’ by the ISP which have paid an extra fee. While all the other competitors would be pushed towards ‘slow lane’. This could lead to market monopoly and shrinking of options for the customers.

Net neutrality in India

In countries like India, where internet speeds are comparatively slower, there are no ‘fast lanes’ as such. Here, net neutrality takes the form of extra charges for select services. For instance, in December last year, Airtel floated a plan to charge extra for Viber and Skype calls, refusing to accommodate the data usage from these apps into the usual data packs. After facing strong reactions from the consumers as well as the Government authorities, Airtel decided to defer its plans. Surprisingly, TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) is yet to frame any laws against violation of net neutrality.

Who’s supporting it anyway?

It isn’t difficult to decipher who would be the biggest gainer if net neutrality is taken away. The major ISPs, such as AT & T are pulling together all their resources to trash net neutrality. Why? Because they stand a chance to earn a fortune after the demise of net neutrality! The big ISPs would be treated with millions of dollars from the companies to fast-track their apps and websites.

The major online companies, who have the capacity of shelling out money to kill the competition from newer competitors, also favour the campaign against net neutrality. It would give them a set platform to make good use of their money power and gain monopoly in the market.

Whose idea is it though?

The Chairman of Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, first came out with an idea of trashing net neutrality and giving internet into the hands of major ISPs such as Verizon and AT & T. After strong nation-wide protest across the US, the FCC, in February 2015, upheld net neutrality, with Wheeler saying “This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept.”

 

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Facebook Loves Your Data, and Rakes in Moolah Every Year

Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

Our data is invaluable to Facebook and the social networking giant earned $157.41 average revenue per user (ARPU) in the US and Canada in the past five quarters.

In comparison, Facebook earned only $15 average revenue per user in Asia-Pacific in the same time period, it Q3 2019 earnings have revealed.

Facebook is earning triple the revenue from its US users as from its users in Europe where average revenue per user was mere $50.73 in the last five quarters.

“Part of that is attributable to the fact that American consumers spend more in general — per capita consumption in the US is about 80 per cent higher than in Europe,” reports Slate.

Facebook has nearly 1.62 billion daily active users and 2.4 billion monthly active users.

A cache of recently leaked Facebook documents, obtained by NBC News, showed how the CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power by treating users’ data as a bargaining chip.

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The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

This trove comprises approximately 7,000 pages in total, of which about 4,000 are internal Facebook communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, primarily from 2011 to 2015.

About 1,200 pages are marked as “highly confidential”.

According to the report, the emails, notes and other documents dated as far back as 2011 and were supposed to be kept out of the public eye pending the civil case in California.

Despite dismissing Tinder co-founder Sean Rad as irrelevant, Zuckerberg also allowed the dating app special access to user data, as revealed by leaked exchanges.

Access to Facebook data helped Tinder thrive, but there came a point when it inched closer to losing that access.

The leaked correspondence was part of a long-running lawsuit in California state court, between former Facebook app developer Six4three and Facebook.

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FILE – In this April 30, 2019, file photo, Facebook stickers are laid out on a table at F8, Facebook’s developer conference in San Jose, Calif. VOA

In 2014, Facebook, which is facing several antitrust investigations, announced a new set of rules to prevent third-party app developers from getting access to data on users’ friends. The social networking giant set May 2015 as the deadline for complying with the new rules. But some firms continued to have access to the crucial data, including Tinder.

In yet another data breach, Facebook earlier this month revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

Also Read: Bill Gates Officially Surpasses Jeff Bezos as Richest Person on Earth: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface).

Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach. (IANS)