The Internet is one of the biggest innovations in the past few decades, and it has absolutely transformed every industry. Due to the Internet, we are living in an interconnected world where location does not matter, and we are at an all time high of productivity and speed. The Internet also has become an efficient consumption pipeline, and has given way to new forms of entertainment.
But as prevalent as the Internet seems to be, when you look at it from a worldwide scale, the Internet still hasn’t reached full penetration. According to reports, around 2 billion people have access to the Internet, and that number seems huge until you consider the fact that there are 7 billion people in the world, and the other 5 billion don’t have internet access.
Internet Companies are seeing stagnating growth, because they have reached the demographics they can on the current Internet Population. They need more Internet Users. For example, Facebook alone has over 1.4 billion users which is a staggeringly large percentage of the 2 billion people who are online.
Now to foster growth, companies such as Google and Facebook are taking matters into their own hands, and are using innovative ways like balloons, drones and lasers, etc to provide Internet to remote areas.
Facebook seems ahead in the deployment stage, and has already begun Internet.org operations in many countries. Facebook gets into deals with telecoms to get Facebook’s Services and some selected Services for free for consumers, to increase Internet penetration.
While it has worked so far, there’s a catch. There always is a catch. See, the concept of Net Neutrality, i.e the concept that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, has become extremely popular with the public.
While the US has announced plans that promise to keep Net Neutrality, other countries still haven’t prepared for that challenge. And India is the next on the list, since it asked everyone what they think of Net Neutrality, and with the popularization of Net Neutrality by the Media, TRAI received an overwhelming response.
While this does keep the power of the telecoms under check, there’s another problem. That of Internet.org, which may be well-meaning, but it still prioritizes some data (for free) over others, which violates the principles of Net Neutrality.
This is why some startups have left the Internet.org program in fear of reprisal from the Indian public. Facebook has maintained its stance that Net Neutrality and Internet.org can co-exist, arguing that some Internet Access is better than no Internet Access.
Many have accused Facebook of trying to control the Internet, since Internet.org users will only be able to access the services that Facebook chooses for free, creating a disparity.
Now, Facebook has announced that any company can get in touch with Facebook to have their services available to consumers for free, with only one requirement: These services shouldn’t be bandwidth intensive.
However, even that doesn’t guarantee that these applications get on Internet.org, since they need to be approved by Facebook first and then the Telecoms before anything happens, but hey, at least this is better than the original Idea of Facebook curating the experience without outside influence.
But here too there’s a catch. And a huge one. Internet.org, by design, does not allow secure HTTPS connections. Meaning the sites you log into would not be secure on Internet.org. All traffic will go through Internet.org’s servers, and this traffic will be open, and anyone savvy enough would be able to see confidential data without much effort
Facebook promises that June will bring an update to Internet.org that will support HTTPS.
What do you think? Can Internet.org and Net Neutrality co-exist?