When Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) Free Basics was shut down in Egypt, everyone naturally assumed that it was because of net neutrality. However, it has come to light now that neutrality had nothing to do with the banning. According to Reuters, the real reason had to do with surveillance.
The report explains how the Egyptian government wanted full control and the means to spy on its own people, but the social media giant refused to do so. Once Free Basics was shut down, the government stated that a permit was only granted to Etisalat Egypt, and it was careful enough to not let its intentions be known regarding the disagreement with Facebook over surveillance.
It is important to note that a staggering 3 million people had already signed up for the service, out of which at least 1 million were going to access the internet for the very first time.
That being said, this is not the first time Free Basics has been surrounded by controversy. The service was outright rejected by other countries, and India for instance went to such an extent as to prevent the service from operating in the country.
Even though the service does give access to those who have never used the internet, it is still and always will be surrounded by controversy. But then again, it will come as a sigh of relief for many that the social media site will not give in to such demands and alter its security for its users to be spied on.