Internet.org opens up to sites without HTTPS or JavaScript

Facebook has announced a process to open Internet.org to more websites, provided they meet certain restrictions and are approved by the social network.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced Internet.org Platform, which will see the social network open up its Internet.org initiative to other websites.

Sites that wish to be added will need to be approved by Facebook, and offer a slimmed-down version of their content that is without JavaScript, SSL, IFrames, video, Flash, and Java.

The social network said in its technical guidelines that it proxies all requests through Internet.org, as it allows operators to "properly identify and zero rate" the service -- and, hence, SSL could not be offered.

"While we would prefer to support fully encrypted connections between user and website in all cases, proxying for third-party sites does not allow for this in its current implementation without introducing man-in-the-middle capabilities," the company said.

In his announcement video, Zuckerberg said Internet.org is self-sustaining, as offering limited free services leads to users paying to access the wider internet, but it is not sustainable to offer the entire internet for free.

"We had to start somewhere, so we launched first with partners who wanted to work with us on this mission to connect the world," Zuckerberg said. "But we will work with anyone who wants to join us.

"No company pays to be included in Internet.org, no operator is paid to offer these services, Facebook doesn't even show ads in Internet.org."

Internet.org has come under fire in India in recent weeks, with partners leaving citing net neutrality concerns.

In response, Zuckerberg said that giving 4 billion people access to some form of internet is the right thing to do.

"We have to ask ourselves: What kind of community to we want to be? Are we a community that values people and improving people's lives above all else? Or are we a community that puts the intellectual purity of technology above people's needs?" he said.

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, vice president of product for Internet.org at Facebook Chris Daniels confirmed that Facebook would be able to see all traffic requests on the service, and denied that the service is in breach of net neutrality principles.

"The purest definition of net neutrality shouldn't be used to deny people access to the internet," Daniels said.

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