In an exchange of letters with Facebook, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has said that it was not able to reach out to respondents who sent a message in support of Free Basics via Facebook’s email campaign. Readers will remember that TRAI had said it would write back to people who used Facebook’s template and redirect them to the consultation paper and answer specific questions in it.
TRAI had written to Facebook on 7th January, saying it was unable to reach out to people as the comments had come from the domain names ‘facebook.com’ and ‘@supportfreebasics.in’. The regulator has also shown that the emails it had sent to the domain names to reach out to users have bounced back. (source).
“As these users had not communicated any valid communication address, TRAI was unable to communicate with them directly. Therefore, you were requested to communicate TRAI’s text to all such users immediately so that they could comment on specific questions raised in Consultation Paper.” TRAI said.
Facebook, on the other hand, had written to TRAI on January 6th saying that it was unable to reach out to people who had responded via missed call as Facebook did not have their email ids on record. TRAI wrote back to Facebook saying that it expected Facebook to find ways to reach out to the users.
“Even if you did not have their emails, you could certainly communicate the message through SMS text or other means and would have guided them the URL of the Consultation Paper of TRAI which has all the questions to which the respondents had to respond,” TRAI added,”
TRAI expressed its disappointment to Facebook as they could not get the comments from such a large user base.
TRAI in its letter said that it had not received a single revised response to the consultation paper seeking comments on the specific issues raised. This is curious, as Facebook had released a new set of responses in support of Free Basics on January 5.
“It appears that you have not been able to convey the message to your users ( whose mail ids were with you) in time,” TRAI added.
Number of responses
Facebook in its letter on January 6th, had stated that 11 million people sent their responses in support of ‘digital equality’ and Free Basics. However, TRAI’s records showed that it received only 1.89 million responses. “Hence either the figures provided by you are wrong, or TRAI has not received the rest of the responses (if your figure of 11 million is correct),” TRAI wrote to Facebook.
Disclosures: MediaNama has taken a strong position in favor of Net Neutrality and against price discrimination; Founder and editor of Medianama Nikhil Pahwa is a volunteer with the SaveTheInternet coalition.