Facebook founder calls for universal Internet to help cure global ills

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook chief announces project to connect refugee camps to the Internet.

UNITED NATIONS — Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, promoted access to the Internet as “an enabler of human rights” and a “force for peace” yesterday (Sept 26), as he announced that his company would help the United Nations bring Internet connections to refugee camps. “It’s not all altruism,” Mr Zuckerberg said later, in an implicit acknowledgment that drawing new users to his service is also good for Facebook’s bottom line. “We all benefit when we are more connected.” Mr Zuckerberg’s remarks came at a lunch hosted by the U.N.NEW YORK: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates have thrown their weight and resources behind the goal of bringing Internet access to everyone in the world by 2020.

It was attended by government leaders and business executives and was intended to encourage private-sector cooperation to advance the ambitious global development goals adopted on Friday in the General Assembly. Other signatories included Jimmy Wales, co-founder of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and U2 frontman Bono on behalf of his One anti-poverty campaign. U.N. officials estimate half the world does not have reliable access, especially women and girls, whose education and health is crucial to anti-poverty efforts. “The Internet belongs to everyone. Yesterday, she made a strong pitch to business leaders to do their part, reminding them that curbing corruption, which is one of the goals, would make their lives easier, too. Releasing the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more than $25 billion has been committed so far to meeting the goals, led by $3.3 billion from the United States and large pledges from Canada, Germany and Sweden.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Saturday launched its own roadmap, which placed a top priority on improving the health and education for girls. Internet.org teamed up with phone carriers to offer free access to Facebook and other websites in developing countries like India, but critics said it restricted what people could access in what they called Facebook’s “walled garden”.

Poverty has already been cut in half in the past 15 years, she said. “The glass is half full,” she added. “The last mile is always the most difficult.” The connectivity ambitions are at the center of Mr. In April, 65 organisations from around the world sent an open letter to Mr Zuckerberg complaining that the project violated the principles of net neutrality in the guise of “access for impoverished people”. The U.N. visit capped a week in which Zuckerberg — whose company’s service reaches 1.3 billion members worldwide — has taken on a global leadership role.

We’ll have to wait and see what ‘ol Zuck’s got in store for us this time, but here’s one possibility: A network of giant drones that beam internet across the far corners of the planet using lasers. After meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Pacific Northwest earlier in the week, Zuckerberg will host India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a town hall Sunday. (Zuckerberg visited Modi in India last year.) As Facebook continues its astonishing growth overseas, it is increasingly training its sights on the world’s two most populous countries.

Nearby, Obama administration officials sponsored an event to demonstrate anti-censorship tools, built with financial help from the government, for dissidents in repressive countries. “The openness of the global Internet is challenged today like never before,” Tom Malinowski, the assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour, said, calling the countermeasures that companies and groups were developing “a foretaste of our response”. Zuckerberg’s remarks coincided with a petition that he began with the entertainer Bono, the philanthropist Mo Ibrahim and others to expand connectivity, calling Internet access “essential” to achieving the development goals but skirting thorny issues like net neutrality and Internet censorship.

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