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Eric Schmidt says North Korea need to ‘open up to internet’

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has spoken out to North Korea saying that they risk isolation and economic decline unless they loosen their grip on access to the internet.

He was over on a four day visit to the country with Bill Richardson, the former governor of Mexico.

Schmidt has said that the country would fall way behind the rest of the world if they didn’t widen access to the internet and mobile phones among its 24 million people.

He said “As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically.”

Schmidt spoke out at the end of his trip, facing criticism from the US state department who said his trip was ‘unhelpful’. They are trying to put pressure on the country in abandoning their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

Schmidt spoke out at the airport on his way back and said “Once the internet starts, citizens in a country can certainly build on top of it, but the government has to do something, They have to make it possible for people to use the internet, which the government in North Korea has not yet done. It’s their choice now, and in my view it’s time now for them to start or they will remain behind.”

The trip was strictly private and humanitarian and Schmidt visited scientists, government officials, students and software engineers.

Schmidt has came under some criticism for his visit, not just from the US state department. The BBC say “Some analysts have suggested he was using a commitment to online freedom as a means of expanding Google’s global reach, even if that includes the world’s darkest, most repressive corners.

More internet traffic, even in impoverished states such as North Korea, could ultimately mean more opportunities to sell digital advertising, which forms the bulk of Google’s $50bn (£31bn) in annual revenue.”

Schmidt said “This is a private visit to North Korea, to talk about the free and open internet. And they showed up and listened to us and asked us a lot of questions.”

Kitguru says: Will his trip change anything? time will tell.

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