Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Google Offers Free WiFi for India: but will they censor content?

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Google has announced that it is to offer free WiFi across India, in an attempt to promote the use of their social network Google+, and affiliated sites such as YouTube. There is currently less than 10% Internet penetration in India, this service will greatly benefit consumers in India. Of course, it will also benefit Google, whose Android phones are in competition with other popular smartphones such as the BlackBerry Bellagio and the Nokia Lumia.

However, the announcement comes at an interesting time, after Delhi High Court ordered Google India, along with Facebook India, to moderate their content, or face being blocked. Justice Suresh Kaitsaid “Like China, we will block all such websites.”

It has been argued in response to this that Google is not responsible for third-party content, making it unfeasible for the search engine to really be blocked. Mukul Rohatgi testified that “No human interference is possible, and moreover, it can’t be feasible to check such incidents. Billions of people across the globe post their articles on the website. Yes, they may be dematory, obscene, but cannot be checked.”

It seems that Google in India may be safe for now. But how will they make sure that people access the Google websites, rather than competitors? They’re offering the free WiFi on the basis of unlimited usage of Google+, and ten minutes of access to YouTube. Users who wish to access other websites will pay by the minute, limiting access to rival sites such as Facebook and Yahoo.

Google is offering this service in association with O-Zone Networks. O-Zone Networks CEO Sanjeev Sarin said: “This is a first-of-its-kind promotional tie-up. This association between Google India and O-Zone Networks reinforces the fact that people are now realising the power of Wi-Fi.”

For your information, presently O-Zone network has 5,000 Wi-Fi access points across India and these access points includes  McDonalds, Café Oz, Cafe Coffee Day Costa Coffee, Subway, OM Bookshop and Coffee Bean. 

What do you think about Google’s move to provide free WiFi in India, do share your thoughts in comment section below. 
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