Posted On 27 Dec 2018
Mozilla recently published its first complete “Internet Health Report,” which examines the issues that are of primary concern today on the web, including privacy/security, openness, digital inclusion, web literacy, and decentralization.
The report notes several positive things about the Internet: It has a greater number of users than ever, is increasingly economical to use, and people are more likely to use encrypted data. However, censorship of the Internet by nation-states is spreading, online harassment is a serious problem, and the diversity of its users is not reflected by the companies that run the systems.
Three specific problems were identified by Mozilla: The security of the Internet of things, “fake news,” and the monopolies held by companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Many Internet businesses rely on amassing enormous amounts of user data which they then sell to 3rd parties. This means that there is a permanent danger of data leak; e.g., with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. The report argues that companies could still make substantial profits without having to sell data to advertisers by creating new advertising systems.
Digital literacy is another serious problem according to the report. Many people don’t know how and when their data is being used, and they frequently use common and insecure passwords. Internet companies are guilty of encouraging people to use the Internet as much as possible without explaining how they can do so in a safe manner.
The report does note that some people are working to improve the Internet, e.g., Santhosh Thottingai, who endeavors to make the Internet fully multilingual, and Holly Jacobs, who supports those who have suffered from revenge pornography. However, generally, the report is quite negative, reflecting users’ lack of trust in the people who run the Internet.