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September 29, 2015

Internet Access, a Right or a Privilege: Zuckerberg Takes a Stand.

Maurizio Pesce/ Flickr

Mark Zuckerberg and Bono’s One Organization are teaming up to push for universal Internet access by 2020.

In this cyber age of technology, Internet access should be a right, not a privilege, and more than half the world has no access to Internet.

The farmer in Africa supplying crops for export would benefit from the ability to track global pricing and inventory, as would women in remote areas benefit from access to health information.

Imagine trying to go about the day without Internet, something we completely take for granted. I know that I do. It would be challenging to conduct business without the Internet. It would be impossible.

“That is not good for anyone—not for the disempowered and disconnected, and not for the other half, whose commerce and security depend on having stable societies,” stated Zuckerberg in the NY Time op-ed he cowrote with Bono.

The Connectivity Declaration released by One reads” “I believe that Internet connectivity is essential for achieving humanity’s #globalgoals.” Global Goals is a development blueprint aimed at solving pressing social and economic challenges that the United Nations is launching. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also on board, as well as several other philanthropic heavy hitters.

Zuckerberg appeared at the UN this week to discuss the Internet component of those goals and explain that “connecting the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation.”

Facebook has been working to expand global Internet access via its Internet.org.

“It’s one thing to say we should connect the world. The real trick is how,” Zuckerberg acknowledged. “There’s no simple solution or silicon bullet.”

One of the big challenges, he said, is providing Internet access to areas that don’t even have electricity yet.

“Nine out of 10 rural Africans don’t have electricity,” Zuckerberg said. “Governments can make the difference. This is why we support initiatives like President Obama’s Power Africa plan and the bipartisan Electrify Africa Act in Congress, as well as the African Development Bank’s investments in renewable energy.”

The insane inequality in wealth distribution we see in the United States between rich and poor is a small example of the global inequality problem. On one end we have corporations so wealthy their CEOs believe access to clean water is a privilege, not a basic human right and on the other end, we see nine out of 10 Africans living without electricity. The uneven distribution of basic things that improve life is a massive problem that has been ignored for too long.

As Zuckerberg and Bono wrote, “Silicon Valley must do far more for those most marginalized, those trapped in poverty and those beyond or on the edge of the network.'”

It’s about time someone spoke up for the little guys.

Maybe the power of Silicon Valley and philanthropic, like-minded heavy hitters such as Bono and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can counteract the greed of the corporate giants that would enslave the world if left to it.

We can hope.

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Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Editor: Evan Yerburgh

Image: Flickr/Maurizio Pesce 

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