Mark Zuckerberg Announces Project to Connect Refugee Camps to the Internet

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ahead of UN address, Mark Zuckerberg issues call for universal internet access.

UNITED NATIONS — Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, promoted access to the Internet as “an enabler of human rights” and a “force for peace” on Saturday, as he announced that his company would help the United Nations bring Internet connections to refugee camps. “It’s not all altruism,” Mr.Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates have thrown their weight and resources behind a goal to bring internet access to everyone in the world by 2020. 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.

Facebook’s chief executive has signed on with the international campaign and advocacy organization, ONE campaign to help bring this cause to the forefront. Other signatories included Jimmy Wales, co-founder of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia, and U2 frontman Bono on behalf of his One anti-poverty campaign. He says that internet access is “essential for achieving humanity’s Global Goals.” Called the ‘Connectivity Declaration’, Facebook is joined by numerous individuals and organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Richard Branson, Ericsson’s Hans Vestberg, Arianna Huffington, Jimmy Wales, TED founder Chris Anderson, actor George Takei, artist Shakira, UN Foundation’s Kathy Calvin, actor Charlize Theron for the Africa Outreach Project, and others. 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 Friday in the General Assembly.

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. Releasing the report, UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said more than $25 billion had 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. On Saturday, 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. The Pope and Malala have spoken eloquently about the one world and one family we’re all a part of, and the internet, at its best, facilitates that unity. 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.

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. 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 would restrict what people could access in what they called Facebook’s “walled garden.” In April, 65 organizations from around the world sent an open letter to Mr. 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.

And while his Internet.org program hopes to reach 100 countries within the next year, it’s not without criticism, especially from those that claim that it violates the principles of net neutrality and provides limited access to sites. “Facebook has proven over and over again that its goal is to make our personal lives less private.

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