The Free Internet Project

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Mark Zuckerberg appeals to India before key decision on Internet.org platform, amid protests of net neutrality violation

Ahead of a key decision by India's telecommunications regulatory body, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a blog post in the Times of India to defend his nonprofit Internet.org, which provides free (but limited) Internet access to under-served areas.  The service is called "Free Basics," which enables users to access the Internet but only for a limited number of apps, such as weather, Wikipedia, and, yes, Facebook. Other app developers can apply to Internet.org to be included in Free Basics.   

Zuckerberg visits Colombia to launch free Internet.org app, 1st country in Latin America

Mark Zuckerberg visited Colombia and President Juan Manuel Santos to launch a free Internet.org app for smartphones that will enable subscribers of local phone service Tigo to get free Internet access to a limited number of free services, including Facebook and several government sites such as "Instituto Colombiano para la Evaluación de la Educación, an education assessment service and Agronet, a service that provides information on agriculture and rural development."  The list of free services includes:

1doc3
24 Symbols
AccuWeather
Agronet
BabyCenter & MAMA
Facebook
Girl Effect
Instituto Colombiano para la Evaluación de la Educación
Messenger
Mitula
Para la Vida
Su Dinero
Tambero.com
UNICEF
Wikipedia
YoAprendo

 

Iran starts "smart filtering" of Instagram, may lead to unblocking Facebook, Twitter, YouTube in 2015

According to The Guardian, Iran has started a trial of a "smart filtering" of Instagram photographs, allowing Iranians access to the site but selectively blocking certain posts, such as those by @RichKidsofTehran, which shows wealthy, young Iranians "flaunting their wealth."  If the smart filtering proves successful, Iran may deploy the system on other popular social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which currently are blocked in Iran. 

“Presently, the smart-filtering plan is implemented only on one social network in its pilot study phase and this process will continue gradually until the plan is implemented on all networks,” Mahmoud Vaezi, the Iranian Communications Minister, said.

The goal is to have the system in place by June 2015.  Some Iranians expressed fear that the Iranian government would start cracking down on virtual private networks (VPNs), which already allow people in Iran to bypass the blocking of popular websites and social media.

Facebook, Google, Twitter won't comply with Russia's orders to remove info on opposition rally

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter appear to plan on defying Russia's communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, which has ordered them to block information related to a January 15 rally for opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted on the U.S. social media sites accessible in Russia. Navalny is under house arrest under charges of fraud that his supporters claim are trumped up charges to silence the opposition. 

According to WSJ, Roskomnadzor issued its orders under a new law in Russia that authorizes prosecutors to issue such orders without court authorization or involvement.  

Facebook Issues 3rd Government Requests Report (Censorship and User Information)

Facebook came out last week with its third Government Requests Report that compiles data regarding requests by governments around the world from January to July 2014 to take down information or obtain user information from Facebook. India led the requests for censoring material on Facebook, with 4,960 pieces of content removed upon India's government's request.  Turkey was second (1,893 pieces of content taken down), Pakistan third (1,773 pieces of content taken down), and Germany fourth (34 pieces of content taken down).

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook-led effort to provide free Internet access in Zambia

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook helped to start a cooperative effort among telecoms and Facebook to provide free Internet access to countries that lack it.  This initiative--called Internet.org--just launched an app for people in Zambia that provides limited free access to  Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Google, AccuWeather, Unicef, job search sites in Zambia, and women's health and rights organizations.  (More here.)

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