There are many things about Internet.org on how good, how bad it is and whether it is against net neutrality. For those people who are not sure about Internet.org and want to know, we are going to explain in simple terms.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been promoting an initiative called the Internet.org. There’s a lot of controversy over Internet.org and it has been opposed vigorously by thousands of activists around the world, charge Facebook of attempting to do away with Net Neutrality through the Internet.org. We discuss everything you need to know about Interenet.org and whether it is a force for the good or the bad.
What is Internet.org?
It is essentially a partnership between Facebook and six other companies – Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm – which aims to bring affordable access to select Internet services to underdeveloped countries. Facebook aims to do so by increasing efficiency, and by developing new business models based on the provision of better Internet access.
Interent.org was launched by Mark Zuckerberg on August 20, 2013. At that time, Zuckerberg said that he wanted the initiative to improve Internet access for people around the world. He added that “connectivity is a human right.” Internet.org is Zuckerberg’s attempt to “connect two-thirds of the world that don’t have internet access.”
Facebook has been inviting websites and web services to join the initiative and says it would “give people even more choice and more free services, while still creating a sustainable economic model to connect every single person in the world.”
So, what’s the problem with Internet.org? Why are so many people protesting against it?
There are a many internet activists who say that Zuckerberg’s pet project affects Net Neutrality, which is considered absolutely sacred to most people who use the internet. You can read more about Net Neutrality here, we have covered it at length on our blog.
Internet.org, they argue, makes Facebook a global internet service provider. This means all web traffic will be routed through Facebook’s servers, making Facebook the gatekeeper of the internet. That would have been fine if people trusted Facebook, but most don’t. Many internet activists say that it is nothing but Zuckerberg’s ploy to monopolize the internet and make the World Wide Web a personal property of Facebook.
There is some truth to this, as Internet.org does not allow participating sites to use SSL and TLS, which are the most popular security protocols used on the internet that encrypt web traffic and ensure that users don’t fall prey to attacks by hackers. Not only does this undermine the security of millions of internet users around the world, it also makes one wonder about Facebook’s true intentions.
Internet activists have complained about how FB’s project lacks transparency. Face-book hasn’t shared many details related to Internet.org such as how it would respond to government requests for information on the users of the program, whether it stands to make any profit out of its relationship with the telecom operators partnering it in the initiative and most importantly, who would administer the program.
For this reason, there are many who dismiss Internet.org as “Facebook.net” and says that it widens the digital divide and divides the internet between the haves and have-nots. Internet activists say that the Internet.org is a direct attack on Net Neutrality which has been the foundation on which the internet has been built upon.
What’s next for Internet.org?
Zuckerberg, in fact, has made it very clear that the Internet.org does not affect net neutrality. He has said in the past that, “If a person has slower access to a video because their mobile operator demands a fee, then that’s bad.” But the problem is Zuckerberg plans to offer free access to some websites and web services through Internet.org and not the same access to others. And this in a nutshell represents the problem with his ambitious initiative.
Today, Net Neutrality is a huge issue, and several non-government organizations have got together to oppose the Internet.org as it does not offer unfettered, free and non-discriminatory access to the whole internet for everyone. The battle for Net Neutrality is only getting more serious and Zuckerberg and Facebook have found themselves at the receiving end of serious attacks from internet activists from all over the world.
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