Neither hacking nor cyber crimes, Pew study points to another bigger threat on the net


Those championing for free Internet will be glad to know that the new Pew study appears to be quite positive. However, the study also highlights some threats that could get worse by 2025.

 

In a study conducted by Pew, it asked around 1,400 technology experts about the biggest Internet threats in the next 20 years. These experts were academics, theorists and some industry experts in the tech space.

 

Pew asked a simple question to these experts and they had to answer either a 'Yes' or 'No'. It asked, 'By 2025 will there be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online compared with the way globally networked people can operate online today?" And out of the respondents, 35 percent said yes and 65 percent said no.

 

This was followed by another question, irrespective of the respondents said yes or no. It asked them what they believed to be the biggest threat that the Internet will face by 2015. The experts canvassed by Pew believe that the government and big online corporations are the biggest threat to the Internet, and not hacking or some other form of cyber war.

 

"We call this research study a canvassing because it is not a representative, randomized survey. Its findings emerge from an “opt in” invitation to thousands of experts who have been identified by researching those who are widely quoted as technology builders and analysts and those who have made insightful predictions to our previous queries about the future of the Internet," Pew adds in the summary of the report.

 

Dave Burstein, editor of Fast Net News, responded, “Governments worldwide are looking for more power over the Net, especially within their own countries. Britain, for example, has just determined that ISPs block sites the government considers ‘terrorist’ or otherwise dangerous. This will grow. There will usually be ways to circumvent the obstruction but most people won’t bother.”

 

Several experts expressed concern that the Internet will be most affected by government policies like the ones limiting to the Web, filtering content and  so on, as we have seen in the past.  Citing examples of Internet censorship in Syria, China's 'Great Firewall' and so on, the concerns were mostly about how there could be an increase in 'blocking, filtering, segmentation  and balkanization' of the Internet.

 

Paul Saffo, managing director at Discern Analytics and consulting associate professor at Stanford University, said, “The pressures to balkanize the global Internet will continue and create new uncertainties. Governments will become more skilled at blocking access to unwelcome sites.”

 

Pointing at the recent incidents involving whistle blower Edward Snowden and snooping NSA, the report also highlights it could get difficult to trust  big companies and the web.


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