August 21, 2013 Last Updated 8:40 am

Facebook CEO announces Internet.org initiative; NYT profiles Guardian editor

Morning Brief:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last night night announced the launch of Internet.org, an effort to bring web connectivity to developing countries. The initiative will be a joint effort with tech giants Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung.

InternetOrg-logo-sm“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect,” Zuckerberg said in the statement announcing the initiative. “There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. Internet.org brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”

To accomplish its goals, the group effort hopes to lower the cost of web technology, build more efficient apps to lower data usage, and build more sustainable business models in local communities in order to achieve greater access to the Internet.

It need hardly be pointed out that one of the biggest obstacles to continued Facebook and other web companies growth is being limited by the lack of Internet access in developing countries. As a result, many readers posting comments online are more than a little skeptical about the motivation behind the program.


The New York Times this morning published in its newspaper a profile of Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian. The profiling of another paper’s editor is, to say the very least, extremely rare, and an acknowledgment that the U.K. paper’s reporting on the NSA spying scandal has driven the news for quite some time.

Yesterday The Guardian editor reported on the efforts of the Tory government to stop the paper’s reporting on the surveillance issue. Rusbridger reported that the paper destroyed computer hard drives containing classified material that Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, downloaded from American intelligence databases in the presence of U.K. government officials.

“It was quite explicit: we had to destroy it or give it back to them,” Mr. Rusbridger said in an earlier interview with the BBC. “I explained that there were other copies, not within the U.K., so I couldn’t see the point of destroying one copy. But because we had other copies I was happy to destroy a copy in London.”- NYT

News websites in the U.S. and the U.K. have seen fierce arguments about the reporting coming from The Guardian, with defenders of Glenn Greenward, the American journalist who broke the story, seen as doing the proper work of a reporter, while detractors claiming that the Guardian reporter is, in fact, breaking the law.

The incidents involving The Guardian is also now at the center of the political divide in the U.K., with the Tory government defending the 9 hour detention of David Miranda at Heathrow Airport, while the Labour Party opposition is demanding an explanation as to why someone would be detained using the existing terrorism law when no claim of terrorism is being made by the police. “The prime minister must make a full statement to parliament on the day it returns. We need to know the full facts nothing less will do,” a Labour Party statement read.

The leader of the Liberal Party, Nick Clegg, and the coalition partner of the Tories, has come out in support of the government’s actions.

“We understand the concerns about recent events, particularly around issues of freedom of the press and civil liberties. The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation is already looking into the circumstances around the detention of David Miranda and we will wait to see his findings.,” a spokesman for Clegg said.

“On the specific issue of records held by the Guardian, the deputy prime minister thought it was reasonable for the cabinet secretary to request that the Guardian destroyed data that would represent a serious threat to national security if it was to fall into the wrong hands.”

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