Internet Privacy Updates

The privacy of every Internet user in the world is threatened by companies and governments. We have dealt with this for so long that many people simply expect it and go on with their lives. But we want everyone to have an idea about the severity of what’s going on so that they can make informed decisions about the tools and websites that they use. So here is a rundown of what has been happening lately on the privacy front.

Is Project Fi Actually Project Spy?

Google’s Project Fi is for now composed of a small group of Nexus 6 users. They get invited to the mobile network and pay only 10 dollars for every gigabyte of data usage. They also get to use the new VPN capability of the project, made possible by Google’s partnership with the mobile carriers T-Mobile and Sprint. Unused credits are refunded on a monthly basis, and users can get the best speeds because the project has partner resources to draw on. They started late in April this year, but because the deal looks radiant when held up against what subscribers of AT&T and Verizon are getting, it may soon expand to all Android users.

We all know what they say about offers that are too good to be true. And when we examine the business ideals of Google, it seems very likely. Google started as a free search engine, and we all know that nothing can really be strictly free. They take data about their users from which they generate advertising revenue, and this is how they are able to continue operations. Then there’s what Verizon did back in November last year, using resilient and privacy bypassing cookies to spy on their subscribers who were using mobile data. AT&T was just getting started on their wireless spying mechanism at that time. Again, it’s about taking people’s data so it can be sold for profit. To cement our suspicions, we learned that Project Fi has no privacy policy on the website where people can go to ask for an invite. So everyone using it now has absolutely no control over their data, and no recourse. Project Fi is under Google’s general policy, which allows for broad monitoring and tracking of all user activities and physical locations. So even if they are offering an encrypted connection via VPN, it does not mean that they are offering any degree of privacy since there is no information about the data logging practices or even what protocols they are using.

Internet.org Is Better for Zuckerberg

The Internet.org website boldly displays the slogan, “The more we connect, the better it gets.” It seems to imply that people who can use the Internet get an advantage. But the one that it really gets better for is founder Mark Zuckerberg, notorious for his disregard for privacy rights in the Internet age. We see this as a classic case of misdirection, one of big tech’s favorite money-making schemes. These companies offer unbelievably awesome deals to people in exchange for their data, which many people still don’t understand is dangerous. And when this is being offered to a huge percentage of the world that has never had Internet before, it is a dirty trick indeed.

Zuckerberg has been promoting this project for several months, saying that he wants to bring the Internet to everyone so that they can reap the benefits. But he is not telling how much it will actually benefit him. Facebook was launched based on the Zuckerberg principles that it is the Internet age and therefore privacy no longer exists, and that if people are willing to trust them with their data then they are stupid. He has never shown any signs of remorse for his comments or that he has adjusted his perspective. We can expect that Internet.org is an organization founded not to serve the noble mission of bringing Internet to the world in the interests of free access and equality, but for the cause of greater profits for Zuckerberg.

So far, Facebook has already extended an offer of free access to ten select third world countries: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Zambia. This access is limited, however, as tested by users since the launch on May 10. They are not able to stream video content or download large files. It may be a free project, but this cannot be allowed to be used as an exception to our hard fought Net Neutrality. Facebook will in effect become an ISP since it will carry all the traffic of Internet.org. But it will not be an ISP technically and so can escape regulation under the new rules. Plus, Zuckerberg gets to decide what websites can be viewed via the Internet.org app and which ones will be banned – unless of course they want to start paying. But that’s not all, since the company is also not allowing any encrypted connections through. Websites that care about user security are not going to be permitted to join Internet.org. Only unsecured websites that Facebook can spy on are allowed, and no one cares about user security.

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