Facebook has opened up its Internet.org platform for developers to build apps, but has already created controversy owing to the onerous data gathering terms and conditions and lack of security.
Internet.org is Facebook’s attempt to take the internet to all corners of the globe by creating a system that requires very little bandwidth to be accessed, bringing key apps and services to very remote areas.
The effort has already included work between mobile operators and Facebook to provide certain services that use very limited bandwidth to make it easier for people to access these tools.
"These websites are very simple and data efficient, so operators can offer these for free in an economically sustainable way,” Facebook said in a blog post announcing the new initiative.
"Because these services have to be specially built to these specifications, we started by offering just a few. But giving people more choice over the services they use is incredibly important, and people using Internet.org will be able to search for and use services that meet these guidelines.”
Facebook has now opened up the platform so that others can build services on top as long as they adhere to strict requirements, set out as follows:
• Services should encourage the exploration of the broader internet wherever possible.
• Services should not use VoIP, video, file transfer, high resolution photos or high volumes of photos.
• Websites must be built to be optimised for browsing on feature and smartphones and in limited bandwidth scenarios.
Facebook said that this is important to ensure that it can deliver services to as many people as possible.
“We think these criteria will help us to connect more people faster, and add even greater value to people’s lives,” the firm added.
Facebook did say in its technical guidelines that it will try to provide this protection from within the app itself.
"SSL/TLS will be supported for services within the Internet.org Android App and we are also investigating ways that we could provide the same security for web-based access to Internet.org," the firm said in its guidelines to developers.
The policies for Internet.org also confirm that anyone using the service will give Facebook their phone number.
"When you access a website or service through Internet.org, your mobile operator provides us with your phone number," the terms and conditions say, also explaining how Facebook can then share this data with other organisations.
"We may share information with third parties as described in our Data Policy. For example, we may share information such as your phone number or data usage with your mobile operator so we can provide and improve our services," Facebook said.
Internet.org has already caused controversy in some nations. Internet users in India are angry about some of the conditions that Internet.org imposes, claiming that it is an abuse of net neutrality principles.
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