How free will the Internet be in 2025?
In a report released, the Pew Research Center distilled the concerns of over 1,400 computer experts, Internet visionaries and researchers canvassed earlier this year. They were asked whether people will be more or less able to freely share information online in the year 2025.
That’s a far cry from the heady beginnings of the Internet, when users first realized they individually had the power to reach millions of others without publishing houses, newspapers or television stations acting as intermediaries.
As the Internet becomes more commercialized, people may stop seeing it as something they can use to reach out to the world, limiting their expectations of “what the Internet is for“.[blockquote cite=”Mike Roberts, a member of the Internet Hall of Fame”] The challenge is to prevent the web from becoming “just a corporate entertainment-delivery system.
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- Threats to ‘net neutrality,’ the treatment of all senders and receivers as equals, could destroy the power of individuals. The experts fear companies will instead focus on increasing revenue by sending the content of the highest bidders first, relegating those who can’t pay to the slow lanes.
- Another concern is increased government regulation and censorship. Countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey have blocked Internet access to control the flow of information. China famously has its “Great Firewall” to keep unwanted news from its citizens.
While governments focus on stopping dissent and terrorism, companies are concerned with extending copyright, to keep lucrative franchises from falling into the public domain.
The dominant content companies may seek ever more rigorous ways to prevent the flow of copyright content within and across borders.
However, others argue that eventually “sharing freely will be recognized as having greater long-term economic value than strictly limited controls over intellectual property.