Facebook is under fire from India’s telecoms regulator, TRAI, on its orchestration of the defence of the Free Basics proposition.
A campaign in December to encourage users of the social network to send a prepared email to the regulator is now facing criticism from TRAI.
Facebook’s urging “has the flavour of reducing this meaningful consultation exercise designed to produce informed decisions in a transparent manner into a crudely majoritarian and orchestrated opinion poll,” said the regulator in an open letter.
It continued: “Equally of concern is your self-appointed spokesmanship on behalf of those who have sent responses to TRAI using your platform. It is noticed that you have not been authorised by your users to speak on behalf of them collectively.”
TRAI also says Facebook’s approach, if accepted, has “dangerous ramifications for policy-making in India”.
In addition, the regulator also accused the social media firm of not including specific questions raised by the regulator about Free Basics.
For its part, the social media firm told Buzzfeed News that while it did not include all the language drafted by TRAI, “we did deliver a request for additional information and included in the draft email the exact language from the four specific questions posed in the consultation paper”.
And Facebook claims the regulator is receiving, but blocking, emails of support from its user base.
TRAI is currently conducting a consultation process on differential data pricing, including zero-rated services such as Free Basics.