The CEO of Facebook has made his first visit to the continent, Nigeria and Kenya. His goal: to promote Free Basics, an access service free internet … almost.
Mark Zuckerberg in Africa … Until August 30, Facebook founder never had come to the continent. In Nigeria, the youngest billionaire on the planet, 32, was received as a prince by President Muhammadu Buhari. Then the man who weighs 56 billion dollars (50 billion euros), according to the magazine Forbes , flew to Kenya, where he met the bosses of African startups.
A new service on free
The CEO of the popular social network has promoted Free Basics, a free Internet access service launched by Facebook two years ago in some 40 countries, half of them in Africa. He repeated: “The internet must be enrolled in human rights. “Free internet for the poor thanks to Zuckerberg? A true fairy tale!
The problem is that to use this service you must subscribe to specific mobile operators like Airtel Kenya.Especially, Free Basics gives access to a tiny fraction of websites.
To browse the rest of the Web, including Google – one of the major competitors of Facebook – and YouTube application, you have to pay. Will it to an Internet for rich and internet for the poor? As Zuckerberg violating net neutrality, Egypt and India come to put an end to the Free Basics initiative. And Nigeria, some suitable for the California firm referred to “colonial”.
They fear that the Free Basics platform gives Facebook and the United States the power to decide on the sites and content that ultimately consult with hundreds of millions of African Internet users hameçonnés by Zuckerberg.
What personal data protection?
What is certain is that with Free Basics Mark Zuckerberg does not just philanthropy. As the saying goes, “if a product is free, the goods, it is the user.” In fact, before you can surf the internet, while Free Basics of user must log in first to his Facebook account. And from there, the Californian magnate may share the personal data of millions of new users with advertisers. In Europe, the Brussels Commission requires compliance with laws on the protection of such data. But in many African countries, it is not.
A danger to African states?
Free Basics and can also threaten the sovereignty of States. “When you let a private company the power to know what citizens think of a country and what the people they attend, you imagine the power this gives the company, which becomes more powerful than the state concerned, “the Franco-Cameroonian lawyer Julie Owono, the Africa Bureau of the Internet without borders NGO.
Not the least shaken by the criticism, Zuckerberg continues to develop Free Basics. On 1 September, from Nairobi, he followed closely the preparations for the launch in the United States Amos-6, a new satellite designed with the French company Eutelsat to provide network coverage in a dozen new SSA . No luck, the Falcon 9 rocket, which housed the satellite, exploded on the step of shooting Cape Canaveral (Florida).
So, Zuckerberg tour ended on a sour note. But other rockets will follow. And as a young African entrepreneurs will not compete with Facebook, the California firm will continue to occupy a dominant position on the continent.