Zuckerberg's Internet.org will control what billions do online


#1

In response to pressure from our community, OpenMedia launched a new campaign called No Fake Internet, inviting people from around the world to stand with open Internet advocates in places like India, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Paraguay, Panama, Pakistan, and others, who are demanding access to the full, real, open Internet.

As many of you are already aware, their pleas come in response to growing outrage over Internet.org, a controversial new platform from Facebook and large telecom providers where selected services are prioritized over others. This is, of course, a move by Zuckerberg to make Facebook a gatekeeper of the Web that currently knows no boundaries.

We’ve published a full takedown of the Internet.org platform and the threats it poses here.

In addition, we’re inviting Internet users around the globe to stand in solidarity with those impacted by Zuckerberg’s fake Internet, at https://NoFakeInternet.org.

At the end of the day, if Zuckerberg wants to use his influence for good then he should be promoting access to the full, open Internet. Here are some options:

  • Support universal access initiatives, such as Plan Ceibal in Uruguay, or the work of the Alliance for Affordable Internet project.
  • Provide access to the full Internet with a cap that matches what Facebook can afford to give away for free.
  • Create a shared open web standard for low-bandwidth apps suited to featured devices and zero rate all services that abide by the open standard on the platform.
  • Support local groups working towards the above crucial policy outcomes.
  • Experiment with more open approaches like the one Mozilla is testing out.

Every project that overlays top-down control over the Web erodes human potential. Internet.org is not the only threat to free expression online, but it’s one that we must not allow to take root. The next 3 billion Internet users deserve the same opportunity to unfettered connectivity. And speaking on behalf of OpenMedia, we cannot wait to see what they’ll do with it.


#2

I disagree.

The online outrage to this empowers users with access to make decisions for those without. In effect, current users know best. This is offensive.

Facebook is a corporation so of course it’s motive is to build it’s customer base. Internet.org is not a pernicious threat the Internet. On the contrary users time and again demonstrate vast ingenuity in the ways they appropriate technology, often in ways contrary to the aims of the its creator. In this case, I’d be surprised if hacks to Internet.org were already in existence in the wild.

Another claim is that the walled garden will keep users ignorant. If the existent outrage is any example, internet.org users will soon come into contact with people who want to show them the difference between it and the whole internet. Ignorance in this case has a limited life expectancy.

I think the aims for good are laudable and agree with them. I don’t expect that Facebook or any other company will adhere to them. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of white knights willing to invest in these solutions. If they existed, internet.org wouldn’t be a problem. It is their absence that makes Facebook’s efforts worthwhile.

The “fakeinternet” rhetoric is also simply ludicrous. Of the countries you mention, only Brazil actually has something approaching an Internet that looks like the one you are advocating. All of the other states significantly filter content. So the proposition is to stop the provision of limited Internet service to those without access into a highly filtered environment, rather than taking aim at national and often repressive content filtering imposed by the state. This campaign makes it harder for those without access to empower themselves while ignoring the disempowerment already imposed on existing users. The Internet that most of the described current users have is already fake.

In short, this campaign is short sighted and ignores the reality on the ground for the millions of people who do not have access at present.

Best regards,

John Laprise, Ph.D.


#3

Yeah, so it seems the “fakeinternet” campaign as it stands now is too narrow.

It should target everyone that filters one way or another, for whatever motives.


#4

We should be honest and realistic about what “we” are advocating and promising. Take for instance Pakistan. Going in against internet.org while promising an open, unbounded Internet is great…until users get online and discover how many limitations Pakistan imposes on users. How do we respond to “where is the open Internet you promised?”

Best regards,

John