Internet.org aims to separate controversial free curated web service from its charitable aims and programmes
Facebook has renamed Internet.org’s app and mobile website to ‘Free Basics by Facebook’ in a bid to separate the basic service from the organisation’s efforts to get more of the world’s people online.
The social network has presented Internet.org primarily as a charitable venture which aims to “connect the unconnected” by offering free access to some web services to people in the developing in the world.
However the organisation has been controversial, with digital rights groups arguing that this ‘zero rating’ of specific services hands companies like Facebook an advantage over others not involved with Internet.org.
A number of countries, including Chile and India, have also suggested Internet.org violates net neutrality rules. Facebook has since opened up the Internet.org platform to third party developers in order to satisfy some of its critics and has now added 60 the ‘Free Basics by Facebook’ website and app.
Facebook has also added HTTPS security for services that support it in the Android app, and says that even if a service uses only HTTP, Facebook will encrypt any data between its own servers and any device that supports HTTPS.
“Not only does this expand the range of resources available to people, it gives them more choice and control over the services they can use in the app and website,” said Internet.org. “Starting today, people using the app or mobile web version can navigate to a menu where they can select which services to add to their list of free services. They can also search for a service by name or description.”
Internet.org has considered using drones and lasers to expand coverage to more parts of the world, but reports earlier this year suggested it had abandoned plans to use satellites. In July, the company unveiled a drone with the wingspan of a Boeing 737 as part of project Aquila. The solar-powered plane can stay airborne for 90 days at a time, constantly circling in a two mile radius.