back to article Zuck'ed up: Facebook opens up free internet in India – but bans HTTPS

Facebook's Internet.org has loosened the stranglehold on its free internet service in India and other countries. Now potentially any website can be accessed for free via the service as long as the site ditches HTTPS, JavaScript, and other things. The social network offers free mobile internet access to people in India, …

  1. elDog

    Was Zuck just a intelligence implanted zombie?

    Not saying that his personality is "colorless", but somewhat artificial?

    Follow me to Zuckland.org.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Was Zuck just a intelligence implanted zombie?

      More like a zombie implanted by intelligence if his removal of HTTPS is anything to go by.

      There is no clearer evidence that Zuckie boy has been tasked with deepening his intercept attempts than the fact that participation means the absence of any protection of a very basic human right.

    2. paulc

      Re: Was Zuck just a intelligence implanted zombie?

      Just google who his Grandpa was... that's all you need to know, he's one of them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Was Zuck just a intelligence implanted zombie?

        "Just google who his Grandpa was... that's all you need to know, he's one of them..."

        No, his Grandpa was not a Rockefeller. And the fact that this particular line in BS comes primarily from White Supremacist and loony-tunes conspiracy websites tells us more about you than about Zuckerberg, whatever his other faults may be.

  2. Oninoshiko

    It might have taken less time to list what you CAN do on it.

  3. Exit Stage Right
    FAIL

    but, but, but, ...

    Anyone else noticed that the signup page is HTTPS only?

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: but, but, but, ...

      And that it requires JavaScript...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worst of both worlds

    Back in the '90's companies like Yahoo and AltaVista had the same moronic concept, that they were somehow a "Portal" through which you accessed the Internet - users soon discovered that the Internet allowed you to go directly to your destination without needing an intervening Portal.

    This is like going back to the '90's, except that instead of Yahoo now you have the morons at Facebook curating your content. This is an insult, stemming from an arrogant mindset that 3rd world people have less sophisticated needs.

    Facebook really has become a pandemic now, spreading now only very bad programming practices, culture, and now setting the internet back 15 years.. great job, losers!

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Worst of both worlds

      Umm, the 90's were more than 15 years ago...

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: Worst of both worlds

        "Umm, the 90's were more than 15 years ago..."

        Yes, but a couple of them were long years.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Worst of both worlds

          Yes, but a couple of them were long years.

          Epic :). To me, it feels more like an attempt to resurrect Compuserve, minus the screechy modem sounds. It's quite possible that that was where the mass surveillance ideas of the likes of FB were originally developed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worst of both worlds

      Did Yahoo & Altavista provide free internet? Just asking.

    3. Metrognome

      Re: Worst of both worlds

      Wait a minute.

      I'm all for the accusations you make but but but, what FB is doing is actually giving away the connection for free. I don't recall AOL giving away internet access packages for free.

      So yes, it's abusive and walled garden and all those evil things. But it does give people who would otherwise can't afford internet access somewhat of a window to that world.

      If customers become more discerning (as inevitably they will), they'll ditch Zuckernet for the joys of a proper access plan.

      1. Nolveys
        Pint

        Re: Worst of both worlds

        I don't recall AOL giving away internet access packages for free.

        There are about 100,000 cubic meters of landfill that would like to have a word with you.

        Beer...to go with the coasters.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Worst of both worlds

        So yes, it's abusive and walled garden and all those evil things. But it does give people who would otherwise can't afford internet access somewhat of a window to that world.

        Yes, it's not a new tactic. What was it called again? The first hit is free?

        The problem is that your definition of free is incomplete - when you pay with your privacy, that's not free. That's not even cheap.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Data gathering and ad insertion

    That's why they won't support HTTPS or more complicated delivery stuff like Javascript and iframes. If it is encrypted they can't sniff the traffic for data mining, if the delivery isn't simple they can't insert their own ads into it (maybe they'll even replace someone else's ads, depending on how India's laws are written) So yeah, it is "free", depending on your definition of free...

    Facebook doesn't like Google recently catching up to it in terms of evil, so they're making a big move to stay well ahead!

    1. Tomato42
      Joke

      Re: Data gathering and ad insertion

      The mineshaft^W evilness gap!

    2. 142

      Re: Data gathering and ad insertion

      Nah, I doubt that's the case.

      What's being described is similar to the system we used have with the OperaMini browser on 2G before 3G and smartphones took off, where everything was stripped and condensed on Opera's proxy servers before reaching your phone.

      We had the same issue: No SSL, no video, extremely recompressed images, no fonts, limited formatting, no iframes, javascript.

      You *could* choose to continue and access an SSL site, but you were then trusting Opera with your communications, and to their credit, they advised very strongly against proceeding.

      What Facebook are doing here is pushing that optimisation onto the web developer side, rather than doing it on the fly on their proxy. Net result is the same.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Data gathering and ad insertion

        Nah, I doubt that's the case.

        What's being described is similar to the system we used have with the OperaMini browser on 2G before 3G and smartphones took off, where everything was stripped and condensed on Opera's proxy servers before reaching your phone.

        Bingo!

        Expect to be downvoted to hell by the resident tin-foilers...

  6. razorfishsl

    let us rape your data feed.......

  7. ratfox
    Devil

    Videos and large images banned

    No Instagram, then? Or does it get a free pass for being owned by Facebook?

  8. MrWibble

    You missed this lovely nugget from the BBC's report on this:

    "Facebook has confirmed that it will be able to track users' online activity.

    "Yes, we do know what users are accessing. We do have some of that information. But all of it is governed by Facebook's standard data policies""

    So, not only is it using insecure connections, but Facebook get to see everything you do, regardless if you're on "their" site or not.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-32580586

  9. JimmyPage
    Stop

    Yahoo, Compuserve, AltaVista

    but no mention of AOL ?

    1. John70

      Re: Yahoo, Compuserve, AltaVista

      Always Off-Line

  10. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    " HTTPS via Internet.org is going to 'happen soon.' "

    Just as soon as the FB engineers can install the SSL snooper appliances. We must be able to snoop your traffic you naughty freeloaders!

  11. YARR

    For anyone criticising the lack of privacy / features of this service, you are not the target market - it's meant to provide access to essential information in areas of the world where people can't afford internet access at the speed required for modern websites. In the longer term, as internet access improves in those markets, this service will become obsolete, as have web portals.

    Think of this more as a canny long term strategy by Facebook to grow their market abroad. They know that in other established internet economies (China, Russia, South America etc.) it's hard to compete against local social networks. The key is to get in early in upcoming internet economies, and try to become the defacto social network before the local competition. Poor people in Africa / India don't need Facebook right now, but by offering it with free internet access the hope is they will continue to use it when demand for social networking in those markets eventually picks up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So let me get this right: you're saying that poor people don't need privacy?

      1. YARR

        If this were full Internet then obviously they'd need https, but you don't need https to access online information which is the most useful application to very poor people.

        The justification is that https cannot be cached, and caching is required to provide this service at low cost (free to the user) to many people in areas where internet bandwidth is currently very slow and/or expensive.

        When users start to use online accounts and make transactions, they will need privacy, which will boost demand for paid internet access. If they provided full internet access for free, they'd be undermining other providers.

        1. Afernie
          Thumb Down

          Oh really?

          "you don't need https to access online information which is the most useful application to very poor people."

          So you don't need HTTPS if the information is say, on how to report Police corruption and violence or get rape crisis advice? Or information on stigmatising medical complaints?

          If you're naive enough to be comfortable with Facebook (and by extension anyone Facebook gets into bed with) possessing that kind of browsing history, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

          1. icesenshi

            Re: Oh really?

            Agreed. Normally this site is so anti-fb, but it seems zuck has some fans here as well. No https means that facebook wants to snoop all traffic, like they do everything else. Anyone claiming it's because of 'caching' or other such nonsense is hopelessly naive.

          2. YARR

            Re: Oh really?

            I don't follow your reasoning. The information you're talking about is in the public domain so there's no point in encrypting it over https. Putting https at the front of the url wont stop anyone from tracking which pages you're looking at. If you want anonymous browsing you'll need a fully encrypted connection like a tunnel or tor, or a web site that uses entirely ajax requests over https.

            Again this service is free, not mandatory, not intended to compete with a full Internet service and will eventually become obsolete. The fact that it's a walled garden means it's unlikely to contain any information which governments would want to track, unless people are silly enough to indict themselves on FB.

            1. YARR

              I take back the point about tracking, I thought the URL itself wasn't encrypted, but it is.

              If people thought this was an important issue they could campaign to encourage FB show a clear message when users connect, so they are aware of what level of privacy they have.

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