The Right2Know Campaign notes with concern that under the guise of providing free internet to those who don’t have it, Facebook Inc. is luring them into a highly controlled and insecure online environment, thereby compromising their rights as citizens.
Facebook’s “internet.org” project was initially presented as a philanthropic roll-out of the internet, along with grandiose talk of huge, high-altitude solar-powered drones relaying signals to and from remote areas. However with each successive phase of implementation, an agenda which is not merely profit-seeking but manipulative, becomes more apparent.
So far, internet.org has deployed in India, Latin America and some neighbouring African countries; it has done so by means of deals with mobile networks which zero-rate the data used in accessing a small set of online services, including Facebook. This led to controversy about the principle of net neutrality, but the debate has taken on greater urgency and complexity with the latest announcement that web services wishing to be part of the bundle must conform to “lightweight” technical standards, including lacking basic security features.
The right of citizens to communicate without government, corporate or criminal interception (and potential fraudulent alteration) of messages, is a basic one. Given that internet.org is targeted at people who can’t afford the market prices of mobile data, Facebook’s project is irresponsible.
We call on Facebook to redirect its efforts to promote affordable access to the full, open internet to those who lack it.