You may have seen the recent ten-page internet.org whitepaper, bearing the imprimatur of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It heralds an initiative for the greater good that may very well change the world as we know it.
The proposal – “Is connectivity a human right?” – outlines the plans of a commercial consortium, including tech companies such as Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, to provide low-cost internet access to the planet’s poorest nations.
The project’s website states:
“Internet.org is a global partnership between technology leaders, nonprofits, local communities and experts who are working together to bring the internet to the two thirds of the world’s population that don’t have it.”
(The fact that much of this proportion of non-users may also not have access to the basic necessities, such as clean running water, is not lost – but that’s for a completely different article.)
So, will this really be free access to the internet?
Not necessarily so, and probably not. Infrastructures that permit the exchange of free information still cost money.
Public libraries may be free to readers but their operation is usually paid for through council rates, city taxes or other miscellaneous revenue streams. (Incidentally, freely-accessible public toilets are a pro bono technology that are conspicuous by their absence in many large American cities.)
Let’s look at how other schemes with similar sentiments have had varying degrees of success.
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Nokia, Samsung, Qualcomm, and Ericsson to provide low-cost internet access to the poorest nations. This initiative will greatly enhance free access to information through public libraries other organised platforms of research information.
See on theconversation.com