If you are Mark Zuckerberg, this week is a nightmare
First stiff competition in India followed by TRAI opposition and how a ban in Brazil
If you are Mark Zuckerberg, then this is probably one of those weeks in your life when you can smell trouble at bay.
The founder and CEO of social networking site Facebook took to his own platform on Thursday to vent out his frustration after a Brazilian judge ruled for the ban of his acquired firm WhatsApp in Brazil.
"This is a sad day for Brazil. Until today, Brazil has been an ally in creating an open internet. Brazilians have always been among the most passionate in sharing their voice online," Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.
His comments come after access in Brazil to the WhatsApp phone-messaging application was cut off early on Thursday in line with a Brazilian judge's order to local phone companies to block the popular service for 48 hours for failure to comply with a July court order in a criminal case.
According to a Reuters report, SindiTelebrasil, a Brazilian phone-company association, said it received the order to shut off WhatsApp text message and Internet voice telephone service for smartphones throughout Latin America's largest country Wednesday afternoon.
"We are disappointed in the short-sighted decision to cut off access to WhatsApp, a communication tool that so many Brazilians have come to depend on, and sad to see Brazil isolate itself from the rest of the world," said Jan Koum, chief executive of WhatsApp, in a statement posted on Facebook.
But thats Koum, as far as Zuckerberg goes, the situation in India with his Free Basics platform is not improving and Google's Project Loon has finally got approval for pilot projects. Also, Microsoft is carrying its own pilots on its proprietary TV-White spaces technology.
TV-White spaces technology uses low frequency spectrum to deliver internet for a larger area.
Also, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the telecom watchdog of India is against zero-rated plans which puts Facebook in hotter soup. Last week, the TRAI released a consultation paper on zero-rating (which we broke down for you here ), that invited responses from key stakeholders aka telecom operators and the general public by December 30.
On Thursday, Facebook launched a campaign to draw support for its Free Basics programme. Indian users who log on Facebook today are getting notifications from their friends urging them to send a message to TRAI, India's telecom regulator, "in support of digital equality in India."
Once a user taps on the notification, they are confronted by this:
The social network also had a justification to offer for the campaign. An official response from a Facebook spokesperson justified the campaign by saying : "Hundreds of millions of people in India use the Internet every day and understand the benefits it can bring. This campaign gives people the opportunity to support digital equality in India."
The spokesperson also said that the programme lets people speak in support of the one billion people in India who remain unconnected, and helps in letting them participate in the public debate that is being held by The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on differential pricing for data services.
But coming back to Brazil and Zuckerberg, he went out to say that the Brazil incident was sad. "Tonight, a Brazilian judge blocked WhatsApp for more than 100 million people who rely on it in her country. We are working hard to get this block reversed. Until then, Facebook Messenger is still active and you can use it to communicate instead," he wrote adding the hashtags 'connectBrazil' and 'ConnectTheWorld'.
He also went on to comment on the judge's verdict. "I am stunned that our efforts to protect people's data would result in such an extreme decision by a single judge to punish every person in Brazil who uses WhatsApp," he said adding that Facebook hopes that the Brazilian courts quickly reverse course.
"If you're Brazilian, please make your voice heard and help your government reflect the will of its people," he wrote. Zuckerberg is currently on a two month paternity leave. He had caused quite a sensation when he started posting photos of him and his newborn daughter Max.
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