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Facebook set to beam free internet via satellite to Africans

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Ivorian youths look on November 19, 2009 at a cyber cafe in Abidjan at the country's Independent Electoral Commission website, featuring the provisional voter list for the long-awaited presidential election, initially due to take place on November 29. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo said on October 30 that the vote would be delayed, citing problems with the voting lists. And the Independent Electoral Commission confirmed on November 11 that the vote would be delayed without giving a new date. AFP PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
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London/New York: Social networking site Facebook has announced a partnership with French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications to provide free high-speed internet to get more Africans online by next year.

Scheduled to be launched in 2016, the AMOS-6 satellite is configured with high gain spot beams covering large parts of west, east and southern Africa.

Under a multi-year agreement with global satellite communication company Spacecom, Facebook and Eutelsat will utilise the entire broadband payload on the AMOS-6 satellite and will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals, Eutelsat said in a statement on Monday.

In providing reach to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Eutelsat and Facebook will each be equipped to pursue their ambition to accelerate data connectivity for the many users deprived of the economic and social benefits of the Internet.

“We are going to keep working to connect the entire world even if that means looking beyond our planet,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post. The project is part of Facebook’s ambitious Internet.org project.

Using state-of-the-art satellite technology, Eutelsat and Facebook will each deploy internet services designed to relieve pent-up demand for connectivity from the many users in Africa beyond range of fixed and mobile terrestrial networks.

“Satellite networks are well suited to economically connecting people in low to medium density population areas and the high throughput satellite architecture of AMOS-6 is expected to contribute to additional gains in cost efficiency,” the statement read.

The capacity will enable Eutelsat to step up its broadband activity in Sub-Saharan Africa that was initiated using Ku-band satellites to serve professional users.

Two years ago, Facebook announced Internet.org, an effort to accelerate the rate of connectivity by addressing the physical, economic and social barriers that are keeping people from getting online.

For Facebook, this satellite system represents one of many technology investments to enable cost-effective broadband access to unconnected populations.

It plans to work with local partners across Africa to utilise satellite and terrestrial capacity to deliver services to rural areas.

“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa,” Chris Daniels, vice president of Internet.org, said in the statement.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Eutelsat on this project and investigating new ways to use satellites to connect people in the most remote areas of the world more efficiently,” he added.

According to Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat chairman and CEO, “Eutelsat’s strong track record in operating ‘High Throughput Satellite’ systems will ensure that we can deliver accessible and robust Internet solutions that get more users online and part of the Information Society.”

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Twitter Gets Investigated By Ireland Over Data Collection

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages

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Twitter CEO
Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

 Twitter is reportedly facing an investigation by privacy regulators in Ireland over data collection in its link-shortening system, the media reported.

Privacy regulators in Ireland have launched an investigation into exactly how much data Twitter collects from t.co, its URL-shortening system, The Verge reported late on Saturday.

The investigation stems from a request made by UK professor Michael Veale under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a comprehensive European privacy law under which EU citizens have a right to request any data collected on them from a given company.

Facebook, Twitter
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, accompanied by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are sworn in before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on ‘Foreign Influence Operations and Their Use of Social Media Platforms’ on Capitol Hill. VOA

But when Veale made that request to Twitter, the company claimed it had no data from its link-shortening service. The professor was sceptical, and wrote to the relevant privacy regulator to see if Twitter was holding back some of his data.

Now, that investigation seems to be underway. The investigation, first reported by Fortune, is confirmed in a letter obtained by The Verge, sent to Veale by the office of the Irish Data Privacy Commissioner, the report said.

Initially designed as a way to save characters in the limited space of a tweet, link-shortening has also proved to be an effective tool at fighting malware and gathering rudimentary analytics.

Twitter
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

Those analytics services can also present a significant privacy risk when used in private messages.

Also Read: Facebook Tackles Fake News, Deletes Almost 800 Accounts

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced lawsuits for collecting data on links shared in private messages, although no wrong-doing was conclusively established in either case. (IANS)