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Egypt suspends Facebook’s ‘free basic’ services

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Facebook’s Free Basics service, which offers certain basic internet services to people in developing countries for free, has been shut down in Egypt, just a week after the service was temporarily closed by regulators in India.

Free Basics was launched in Egypt two months ago by mobile network Etisalat. An official from the country’s telecommunications ministry told Reuters that the network only had a permit to offer the service for two months, and the service was suspended when this permit ran out.

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Free Basics is part of Facebook’s initiative to bring the benefits of the web to people who might not be able to afford it – certain messaging, weather forecasting, job and marketplace services are available to all Free Basics users cost-free, with no subscription fees or data charges necessary. An official said that the suspension was not related to security concerns.

But some people in countries where Free Basics has launched have said the service is a threat to net neutrality. In India, regulators, internet users and tech entrepreneurs came out against Free Basics, saying Facebook’s limits on what internet services users could access was an assault on the principle that internet service providers should treat all users the same.

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