Shaping the future of the Internet

mouse and sickle“All disruptive technologies upset traditional power balances, and the Internet is no exception.” So begins Bruce Schneier’s article on Power and the Internet.

Schneier is an intensely thoughtful commentator on security and its implications; it was he who coined the term ‘security theater’ for much of the current governmental response to threats in airports and other public places. His insights into the implications of the Internet for power structures are spot-on.

In particular, Schneier points to the dangers of powerful interests steering the development of the Internet for their own advantage. The idea that the Internet has liberated the masses through social media, websites, access top information and so on is all true – the Internet gave the powerless power they did not have before. But Schneier points out that though Governments and corporations may have been slow to react to the change, they have now reacted – and once awoken they “have more power to magnify”

I like Schneier’s ideas that “Debates over the future of the Internet are morally complex.” He goes on:

These are complicated issues that require meaningful debate, international cooperation, and iterative solutions. Does anyone believe we’re up to the task?

We’re not and that’s the worry. Because if we’re not trying to understand how to shape the Internet so that the good effects outweigh the bad, powerful interests will do all the shaping.”

Schneier’s essay is not long, and really is required reading for anyone interested in where the Internet is going. It appeared first as part of a series of responses to the Edge’s question 2013: What should we be worried about. There are some other interesting responses there too.

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