Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has claimed that the Internet is in better health than before the NSA spying scandal erupted. Speaking to an audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which began today, Zuckerberg said that increased collaboration between service providers has made the web stronger and safer.
Facebook brokered a deal with Barack Obama’s U.S. government last month, to disclose more information about NSA surveillance requests. In a talk with journalist David Kirkpatrick, Zuckerberg reiterated claims that these requests numbered in the “thousands, not millions.” Google, Microsoft and several other high-profile web firms were involved in the case.
“The government blew it on this. They were way over the line in terms of not being transparent,” said Zuckerberg. “The NSA issues are real issues…Trust is such an important thing when you’re using a service that shares important information.”
However Zuckerberg stressed that the Internet has emerged a stronger entity in the wake of the scandal. “The issues with the NSA have the industry working together better than it has worked together before.”
The entrepreneur added that working on Internet.org, a project which aims to get the two thirds of the world’s population without the Internet online, has led to healthy collaboration between web-based heavyweights. Facebook has worked alongside Ericsson, Mediatek, Samsung, Opera, Nokia and Qualcomm as part of the scheme.
Zuckerberg also had plenty to say about his firm’s headline acquisition of WhatsApp that broke last week. The $19bn price tag has been questioned in many tech quarters. But Zuckerberg highlighted WhatsApp’s growing user base, which stands at 450m and which he believes can top 1bn, as proof of a good deal. “By itself (WhatsApp) is worth more than $19 billion. There are very few services that reach one billion people in the world, and they are very valuable.”
The Mobile World Congress continues until Thursday. Other keynote speakers include Virginia M. Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM, and Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp.