More people are going online than ever, but Internet freedom could be seriously at risk, according to a new report from the Pew Research Internet Project. It identified four main threats. The first is the prospect of more nations cracking down on access to the Web and mobile apps, like Turkey’s recent Twitter ban and China’s long-standing “Great Firewall.” The next is a backlash against government surveillance programs in the wake of revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and its British equivalent, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). Also mentioned was the “pressures businesses are under to monetize Internet” — especially when it comes to “net neutrality” and restrictive patent laws that could stifle innovation. The final threat to Internet freedom could be that we share too much information, making us reliant on the algorithms of companies like Google and Facebook to find information, filters that are often set with business considerations in mind.
--- Keith Wagstaff
First published July 3 2014, 7:10 AM