Despite the Internet being larger than ever before, it is falling ill. The idealism of the early days has been replaced with cynicism. What can save us from this current rut?
Commentators have been buzzing recently about the poor ‘health’ of the Internet. Mozilla has released its 2019 Internet Health Report and its conclusion, simply put, is that the situation is complicated at best — and dismal at worst.
On paper, the Internet seems strong. The Internet is larger than it has ever been; static pages have been largely replaced by interactive, fluid experiences; thousands of apps and innovations have flooded the digital world with concepts that would have been impossible just a decade ago. We are, overall, more connected than ever before.
However, regardless of the growth, much of the optimism of the early Internet has been replaced with reasonable pessimism.
More Demands for Privacy
One of the current issues repeatedly coming up in public discussions concerns privacy. Due to high-profile incidents involving Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s become clear that our existing privacy framework online is failing.
Can we really trust centralized bodies to not use and sell our personal information without our knowledge? According to many commentators, this supposed ‘trust’ between tech giants and consumers is coming to an end.
The concerns over privacy are only rendered more complicated by artificial intelligence. Although small steps towards social responsibility have been implemented, there is still the fear that algorithms are eating up more and more of our privacy and rendering our ‘choices’ obsolete.
Internet Censorship on the Rise
Mozilla’s report also points towards another pressing problem: Internet censorship. Last year, there were 188 Internet shutdowns by state governments — not including all the Internet slowdowns.
Even worse, some states have begun heavily engaging in biometrics and digital surveillance. Digital identities are becoming more standardized, to our detriment. This trend, coupled with AI, has a tendency to amplify injustices based on flawed data — especially against marginalized groups.
Although the Internet’s basis is arguably freedom, we are now seeing the world pull the technology in the opposite direction.
The Internet Needs a Cure
Luckily, we have the cure for the Internet’s sickness: decentralized networks.
Blockchain-based distributed ledgers can solve the fundamental problem currently choking the Internet: centralization. The only reason state entities and tech giants can spy, shut off our Internet, and use our personal information seemingly at will is due to us being forced to trust them.
Decentralized systems provide us with a way out. Instead of regulating states and firms to be more “responsible,” we should take the power out of their hands entirely.
Blockchain provides us with the cure the Internet needs. The question is, will the powers that be stop this natural progression forward?
Do you agree that blockchain technology is the ‘cure’ the Internet desperately needs right now? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.