Everyone on Earth will have the internet by 2025 but there will be less freedom – that’s what these experts think

In the next 10 years there are going to be some pretty big changes for the web, according to survey of 1,400 top tech and online experts in the US.

The Pew Research Center asked the top internet brains what the future held, with a unanimous answer – more users, but more regulation.

Around 65% of respondents said there would not be changes for the worse in how people get and share online content, however, many of them said that was their “hope”, not necessarily what they thought would happen.

Many of the experts thought the mobile internet revolution would mean better and wider access, but others feared governments would interfere.

The net threats these experts fear, according to the report:

·         Actions by nation-states to maintain security and political control will lead to more blocking, filtering, segmentation, and balkanization of the Internet.

·         Trust will evaporate in the wake of revelations about government and corporate surveillance and likely greater surveillance in the future.

·         Commercial pressures affecting everything from Internet architecture to the flow of information will endanger the open structure of online life.

·         Efforts to fix the TMI (too much information) problem might over-compensate and actually thwart content sharing.

But what do the experts think? Here are some highlights of the report:

Danah Boyd, a research scientist for Microsoft said: “Because of governance issues (and the international implications of the NSA reveals), data sharing will get geographically fragmented in challenging ways. The next few years are going to be about control.”

Vint Cerf, Google vice president and co-inventor of the internet protocol, represented many people’s views, according to Pew, when he said: “Social norms will change to deal with potential harms in online social interactions … The Internet will become far more accessible than it is today—governments and corporations are finally figuring out how important adaptability is.”

Dave Burstein, editor of Fast Net News, said: “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.”

Joel Halpern, a distinguished engineer at Ericsson said: “The biggest challenge is likely to be the problem of finding interesting and meaningful content when you want it. While this is particularly important when you are looking for scientific or medical information, it is equally applicable when looking for restaurants, music, or other things that are matters of taste. While big-data analysis has the promise of helping this, there are many limitations and risks (including mismatched incentives) with those tools.”

Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism, said: “Government poses the greatest threat to the Net’s freedoms. Many governments, including Western regimes, threaten to control some part of Internet communication … Nonetheless, I still hold hope that technologists and hackers can stay one step ahead of slow government and rob them of their stakes claimed in the net.

Hal Varian, chief economist for Google, said: “The biggest problem will be education. People will need to acquire various cognitive skills to use the Internet to its fullest potential.”

Francois-Dominique Armingaud, a retired computer engineer for IBM now teaching security at universities, said: “We will have better control of personal information, including published on social networks: who accesses it, users being warned every time someone accesses it (who, when, why), consolidation.”

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