Brave New Web?

“The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either.”
– Benjamin Franklin

"Big Brother" is moving to control the Internet

"Big Brother" is moving to control the Internet

If you’re reading this post you can thank the many (possibly thousands) of technology visionaries who have had a hand in developing what we currently know as the “Internet.”  What started off as an efficient way to send short text-based messages has blossomed into what has become the world’s medium for business and personal communications as well as the backbone of financial transactions.  The rapid growth of the Internet has changed the way we communicate by giving us the freedom to express ourselves in ways we never thought possible.  Social networks, on-line video sites and the anonymity that the Internet and World Wide Web (two different things) provide have allowed the expression of otherwise unpopular ideas and the creation of communities that bring together those of similar mindset.

Along with the good of the Internet has come the bad. All of us who use the Internet have been victims at one time or another of the bad — viruses, Spam,  malware, hijackers, identity thieves and the like have been a consistent plague that has spawned a multi-billion dollar Internet security industry.  Most of this industry is focused on preventing/removing such infections and for many computer geeks this malicious software keeps them employed.  Not to mention the identity-theft market and the credit monitoring services.  No discussion on the bad of the Internet would be complete without mentioning the prevalence of, shall we say “adult entertainment.”  And not surprisingly, the majority of the aforementioned infections are spread through the downloading/viewing of such “entertainment.” (As a side note, isn’t it interesting that infections are spread through immoral behavior both in the real world and in cyber space?)

But I digress…

So with all of the bad on the Internet is it time to start over? If so, what would the “New Web” look like? We already have Web 2.0 but that’s not what I’m talking about. A recent article on NYTimes.com poses the question about whether or not it’s time to start over and create a newer, more secure version of the Internet.  While the idea isn’t a bad one on the surface there is an underlying element that reveals the true nature of such a change. The article states that a possible goal of the newer, safer Internet would be to “create a “gated community” where users would give up their anonymity and certain freedoms in return for safety(emphasis mine).  Ok, so what’s wrong with giving up anonymity and certain freedoms on the Internet? Not much for the average user – but with regulation comes government bureaucracy and with bureaucracy comes poor management and increased costs.  The price of hosting a website would increase dramatically due to the elimination of many small hosting providers who wouldn’t desire or be able to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops to put up a server.  Widely available public WiFi would become a thing of the past as coffee shops and libraries would need to purchase new equipment and/or software to comply with new government Internet security protocols.  The list goes on and on.

I will admit that I may be overreacting but I’ve never seen an instance where government got involved and made the situation better. I, for one, cherish the freedom I still have left and am not willing to give up more for the sake of a bit more security.  Ben Franklin may have never imagined the Internet, but his words ring just as true today as they did when he uttered them all those years ago.

Thanks for the read and God speed!

For a very informative and somewhat geeky timeline of the Internet and World Wide Web, see http://www.zakon.org/robert/internet/timeline/.

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