[Technology★★★] MARK ZUCKERBERG’S INTERNET.ORG HAS A FEW MAJOR FLAWS
(P2) Since its February ROLLOUT in India, several big companies from that country, including a giant media firm and a major travel portal, have withdrawn from the service, claiming it conflicts with the spirit of net neutrality.
(P4) Responding to the BACKLASH in India, Zuckerberg defended Internet.org in an article for the Hindustan Times, and later published the same text in a Facebook post. He says “net neutrality and universal connectivity must co-exist.”
(P5) NET NEUTRALITY is the idea that all data should be treated equally and service providers shouldn’t limit access to certain services over others. But it helps to understand this in the context of Internet.org.
(P6) Here’s how Internet.org works: The NON-PROFIT makes a free mobile app that’s available in parts of Asia, Latin America, and Africa, thanks to partnerships with cellular carriers in those countries.
(P8) So, unless your phone has a browser and a DATA PLAN, you can only use the free selection of applications Facebook provides you.
(P9) Facebook hasn’t explained how it selects the apps and services to include in Internet.org: Why, for example, does it offer BING SEARCH but not GOOGLE? Why is YOUTUBE not included, despite its educational value? Customers don’t have answers to these questions, which PARTIALLY EXPLAINS the backlash.
(P10) Naveen Patnaik, the Chief Minister of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, said in a letter to Indian regulators (via Quartz): “While the underprivileged deserve much more than what is available, nobody should decide what exactly are their requirements. If you DICTATE what the poor should get, you take away their RIGHT TO CHOOSE what they think is best for them.”
(P11) Some argue that the UNDERLYING PROBLEM with this particular structure — offering a bundle of select apps instead of the complete internet — boils down to a policy called “zero rating.” It means customers don’t pay for the data they use when they access a service or application; rather, the operator running that service or app pays for that data.
(P12) This toll-free policy can give an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE to big websites like Facebook and ESPN, which can afford to pay the data bills for thousands of customers, while leaving little room for smaller independent operations.
(P13) The Hindustan Times’ Nikhil Pahwa wrote a scathing response to ZUCKERBERG’s editorial on Thursday. He cited Stanford Law School professor Barbara van Schewick, who said “zero-rating is the next big threat to innovation and FREE SPEECH online. It DISTORTS competition, interferes with user choice. And that’s exactly what network neutrality is designed to protect.”
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- What is your opinion of Internet.org? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing?
- Is the internet censored in your country? If so, how has it affected your life? If not, do you think some web data should be censored?
- Describe “net neutrality (P5)” in your own words. Why is net neutrality important?
Expressions to Practice
“Customers don’t have answers to these questions, which PARTIALLY EXPLAINS the backlash (P9)”
What does “unfair advantage”, “the most disadvantaged” and “underlying problem” mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.