The change, Levy writes at Wired on Tuesday, “sets Facebook up to serve as a quasi-internet service provider—except that unlike a local or national telco, all web traffic will be routed through Facebook’s servers. In other words, for people using Internet.org to connect to the internet, Facebook will be the de facto gatekeeper of the world’s information.”
Considering the market that Internet.org hopes to reach, that amounts to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. On April 17, Zuckerburg said that more than 800 million people in nine countries, including Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, already have access to the site.
In addition, Levy warns that by excluding commonly used security protocols, such as SSL and TLS, in their criteria for potential developers, Internet.org threatens to “undermine the security” of their users.
Further, Facebook’s new platform “lacks transparency,” as it has failed to disclose important policy details regarding the storage of and government requests for user data.
As Vice journalist Jordan Pearson points out, because Internet.org user access will be routed through Facebook’s servers, the company will “get a huge amount of insight into users’ online activity.” What’s more, Internet.org users will be subject to Facebook’s data policy, which leaves open the possibility for their information to be shared with advertisers as well as the Facebook’s partner organizations.
“However they may want to present Internet.org, Facebook are not in the business of philanthropy, they’re in the business of making money,” Paul Bernal, professor of technology law at the UK-based University of East Anglia, told Pearson. “With Internet.org that means two things: capturing a market, then using that market. They want people to be hooked in, and then their data is, effectively, controlled by Facebook. In the current era, if you can control someone’s data, you have a huge amount of control over them.”
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