Mark Zuckerberg has just released a white paper announcing a plan to connect 5 billion more people in the developing world to the Internet. It’s called Is Connectivity a Human Right?
Internet.org, is a partnership with six other companies, Ericsson, MediaTek , Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung to “develop joint projects, share knowledge, and mobilize industry and governments”. The plan is to get the world online and that means connecting two-thirds of the global population who are not yet connected.
Zuckerberg is well placed to lead such a charge but is he right to claim the mantle of human rights campaigner? Whilst cogently argued the paper is didactic. It lapses into the repetitive style more commonly asscociated wth propaganda and the last five paragraphs before the conclusion all begin with the words; “This is good…”.
The Facebook founder may be strong on connectivity but is he credible on human rights? His former colleague Charlie Cheever, who went on to start Quora has said; ”I feel Mark doesn’t believe in privacy that much, or at least believes in privacy as a stepping-stone. Maybe he’s right, maybe he’s wrong.”
Maybe privacy isn’t a right but a privilege. Either way as Robert Hofs says in Forbes today “I can’t help wondering why these companies feel the need to trot out such idealistic concepts. Ultimately, there’s only one reason all these businesses are involved with this project: money”.