India's government has effectively blocked Facebook's "Free Basics" Internet service in the country, dealing a blow to Mark Zuckerberg's Internet.org project to extend connectivity in the developing world, reports The Washington Post.
Free Basics provides online weather information, job listings, and a pared-down version of Facebook to mobile users in poor countries. Indian telecommunications regulators said Monday that Internet service providers cannot charge different prices for data, even if offering it for free.
Though Internet.org is not a nonprofit, Facebook has couched it as a human-rights campaign to connect the 4 billion people worldwide who lack regular Internet access. India, with nearly 1 billion unconnected rural poor, was a key part of the effort. Critics inside and outside the country contend Internet.org walls poor users into a Facebook-controlled portion of the web and is primarily aimed at expanding the company's user base and advertising revenue.