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The internet is “the largest surveillance network in the world”

It is time to reflect on technical decentralization but also focus mainly on user awareness.

Tim Berners-Lee

With the US-based FBI doing everything possible to be able to tap into emails and web browsing history without resorting to warrants issued by a judge, revelations of Edward Snowden have only echoed that the Internet could be misguided. In a report in the New York Times Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web, is quoted to be calling for a reinvention of the web.

But Tim Berners is not looking for a technological re-imagination of the web as he says the problems are not technological but rather a social one. According to him, his creation has become “the largest monitoring network in the world,” which in the hands of some players — private or government — are controlling the interests of all other users.

Twenty-seven years after creating it, Tim Berners-Lee thinks the Web “…controls what people see, creates mechanisms for how people interact, and creates mechanisms that shape the way people interact. It’s been great, but spying, blocking sites, re-purposing people’s content, taking you to the wrong websites — that completely undermines the spirit of helping people create

At the Decentralized Web Summit, held in San Francisco, Tim Berners-Lee met various activists, such as Brewster Kahle, head of the Internet Archive project, which aims to preserve a digital copy of everything on the web throughout time; Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet now evangelist at Google.

Driven by the desire to ensure compliance with privacy rights of users, freedom of express, the need to facilitate the daily or scientific exchanges, the participants at the summit discussed new directions that could reshape the Internet.

The temptation to grab control of the internet by the government or by a company is always going to be there

Technologies such as cryptocurrencies, an example being Bitcoin, which stores all operations with the blockchain technology could be a way to create a more open internet. But as explained by Vinton Cerf, this would still no be beyond control. According to Cerf total anonymity online can be dangerous.

A decentralized distribution system, for example peer to peer, could also be a solution. But for this to work, we must preserve another key element of our digital life — net neutrality. This concept fluctuates, depending on who is speaking but in general seeks to ensure that all forms of content will be available without discrimination to all users.

Because “The temptation to grab control of the internet by the government or by a company is always going to be there. They will wait until we’re sleeping, because if you’re a government or a company and you can control something, you’ll want it” said Tim Berners-Lee in January, at the launch of launch of the documentary ForEveryone.net at the Sundance Film Festival

Obviously, all players in the internet scene are not favorable to the redesign of a tool that is also an economic engine capital across the globe.

Users have to be aware of the situation and make their voices heard to avoid losing the internet and net neutrality forever.

Originally published at senaquashie.com on June 10, 2016.

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