MEP: Ensuring Internet access in developing countries should not be left to private sector

“Improving access to the Internet in developing countries is too important to leave to the private sector”, says MEP Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66). Schaake states this in response to the trend that large tech companies want to offer a limited version of the Internet in developing countries for free. This practice was criticised at the Internet Governance Forum in Brazil of last week, in which Schaake also participated. Also in Europe Schaake has repeatedly opposed the practice of zero-rating. Allocation of European funds The new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted in September, also include the improvement of Internet access as an explicit objective. Schaake therefore urges the Commission to allocate funds in the European development programmes to the improvement of worldwide access to the Internet. Access to Internet for refugees Today, Schaake organised a roundtable discussion with representatives of the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the World Bank, Facebook and other representatives of the private sector. A main topic of discussion was how the public and private sector can cooperate to improve Internet access in refugee camps. “Access to the Internet in refugee camps is not some sort of luxury. Refugees use the Internet to find work or to stay in touch with their family. Refugee organisations use the Internet to communicate with refugees. Public-private partnerships to improve access to the Internet can make a real difference.”