Who controls what you see online?

During my FOSDEM talk, I spoke about how your phone company, hardware and operating system control what apps you have access to. Some phones bring internet access to those with no access but without the choice and freedom we expect on the web.

For example, in Zambia people are getting free internet from Facebook but they only have access to certain websites.¬†As Eric Hal Schwartz from DCInno says, it’s a bit scary:

anyone in Zambia can get free access via the Internet.org website or its Android app to a limited number of websites and apps. While this is of course great for those who otherwise would have no Internet access at all, the arbitrary limits put on what they are allowed to do online arguably cedes way too much gatekeeper power to the companies behind the offering.

Kudos to Facebook and their partners for bringing internet access to people that didn’t have it. Hopefully they will also give them freedom and choice as well.