Zuckerberg, Gates make bid for universal Internet access

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Could the Internet eradicate poverty?.

UNITED NATIONS, United States: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates threw their weight behind the goal of bringing Internet access to everyone in the world by 2020. The Internet became commonplace in developed countries in the 1990s, but UN officials estimate that half the world does not have reliable access – especially women and girls, whose education is vital to development. “When people have access to the tools and knowledge of the Internet, they have access to opportunities that make life better for all of us,” said a declaration signed by Zuckerberg and Bill and Melinda Gates, who have devoted their wealth to philanthropy. Zuckerberg, swapping his trademark hoodie for a suit and tie as he appeared at the United Nations, said that for every 10 people connected to the Internet, one is lifted out of poverty. “The Internet is more than just a network of machines; it is the key driver of social and economic progress in our time,” Zuckerberg told a luncheon at the UN headquarters attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Other signatories included Jimmy Wales, co-founder of free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, and U2 frontman Bono on behalf of his One anti-poverty campaign.

It should be see as a necessity for development, and a tool that makes larger things possible.” Bono and Zuckerberg argue that international economic development is closely tied to global connectivity. As the first of 17 Sustainable Development Goals world leaders committed to on Friday, eliminating world poverty includes improving access to resources. “By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of 13 property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance,” the UN initiative states. Jamie Drummond, global executive director of One which spearheaded the push, called on every country to come up with an “urgent plan” to meet the Internet access goals.

Releasing the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that more than US$25bil (RM109.81bil) has been committed so far to meeting the goals, led by US$3.3bil (RM14.54bil) from the United States and large pledges from Canada, Germany and Sweden. They point to a handful of government initiatives that are helping with these goals, but call for the private sector, specifically Silicon Valley tech firms, to build on that foundation: More technology companies and entrepreneurs must take more responsibility. For Zuckerberg, universal Internet access is a “global priority.” In 2013, Zuckerberg launched Internet.org, an “initiative bringing together technology leaders, nonprofits, and local communities to connect the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access.” Some have criticized Zuckerberg and Facebook though, pointing out that Facebook will benefit from increased internet access, giving the company broader reach. “Facebook has proven over and over again that its goal is to make our personal lives less private. The company is asking Internet.org users to give up their privacy and freedom of choice,” Rafael Laguna, chief executive of collaboration software provider Open-Xchange, told Venture Beat. Furthermore, critics say the internet.org program violates “net neutrality, providing limited access to sites and controlling what users can view online,” reports The Next Web.

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