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Eric Schmidt and Bill Richardson pushing for more cellphone and internet access in North Korea

eric schmdit north korea

Google's Eric Schmidt, former governor Bill Richardson, and the other members of a humanitarian trip to North Korea are pushing a message of online freedom, at least within the strict confines of the current regime. According to the Associated Press, Richardson says his group has given a message to "a variety of foreign policy officials, scientists," and government officials: "The citizens of the DPRK [North Korea] will be better off with more cellphones and an active internet." North Korea has relaxed its hold on technology slightly in recent years, leading to a jump in cellphone ownership and even a domestic Android tablet, but internet access is very strictly controlled (most of North Korea's few computer users can only access a domestic intranet) and consumer electronics generally are limited to a select few.

Richardson didn't detail exactly what he and Schmidt said or how their comments were received, either regarding the internet or the other goals of the trip: urging humane treatment of an imprisoned American citizen and a halt to missile and nuclear tests. Schmidt, meanwhile, has been clear that despite his interest in North Korean technological development, this is "not a Google trip."

The Verge
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