Tech and Politics Free Facebook-backed Internet shut down in Egypt

In a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday, Facebook says it is “disappointed” by the shutdown and hopes to “resolve this situation soon” so the programme can be restored.

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Free facebook-backed Internet for millions of Egyptians was shutdown on Wednesday 30 Dec.2015 after renewal permit required by the government was not met, reuters reports.

In a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday, Facebook says it is “disappointed” by the shutdown and hopes to “resolve this situation soon” so the programme can be restored.

Facebook's Free Basics service, which aims to provide free access to Facebook and some partner websites in developing countries, was launched in Egypt two months ago by the mobile carrier Etisalat.

Unnamed source told Reuters Etisalat had only been granted a permit to offer the service for two months and that, when it expired on Wednesday, the service was suspended. The suspension was not related to security concerns, the official said.

Facebook says more than 3 million people in Egypt have signed up for the service. Of those 3 million, Facebook says 1 million received access to the internet for the very first time.

Internet regulators and activists have accused Facebook of violating the principles of Internet neutrality by creating a "walled garden" that prioritizes some sites over others.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg writing in Times of India clarified that the service does not violate net neutrality.

He said: "Instead of welcoming Free Basics as an open platform that will partner with any telco, and allows any developer to offer services to people for free, they claim — falsely — that this will give people less choice."

"Instead of recognizing that Free Basics fully respects net neutrality, they claim — falsely — the exact opposite.

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