Machine translations by Deepl

The Button Monster: Internet, a phenomenon with two faces

By our guest columnist.  

Internet: the digital highway nobody owns. And despite the fact that there is no owner, developments of technology on the Internet are moving at lightning speed. This is because a number of companies are collaborating intensively. These include W3C (WorldWideWeb Consortium), IETF, IESG, IAB, ISOC and IANA. The US government and companies in telecommunications, satellites, networks, etc. are also contributing.

Every day you experience the convenience of the Internet. People surf, chat, e-mail and register to their heart's content. People are not embarrassed to put (all) their private data on the Internet, sometimes including pictures or videos that leave nothing to the imagination. Unfortunately, all this free exchange of information also has a downside. Not everything can be put openly on the Internet, after all, larger business institutions also surf the Internet. If your information posted on the .net turns out to be harmful to the company where you work, this is grounds for dismissal. Parents should also protect their children better from - and inform them about - the Internet. After all, all data continue to circulate on the Internet forever. In the future, do you know what people do with all this abundance of information and who does it?

The course of Internet development and dangers are as follows:

  1. Access to the Internet is low-threshold and accessible to all. At first (Web 1.0), the dotcom companies determined what was published on the Internet. The data could be controlled and the respective company or site owner was responsible and thus liable for the content.
  2. Nowadays (web 2.0), everyone is involved in the process. People add information themselves and exchange information through business, friends or other sites and media like Twitter. Sometimes it happens that someone creates and abuses someone else's identity on Facebook or Twitter with fictitious information. This cannot be rectified and unfortunately, the information always circulates. Moreover, a side effect is that national and international laws differ. If a lot of knowledge and information is pooled at one point as is the case on LinkedIn and Hyves, for example, then things become even more difficult. The question is how will the company handle this information and what will they do with it, and how reliable is the information actually that is on the Internet?
  3. The future step (web 3.0) could be the possibility of profiling data and images, for example. This would be facilitated by using one large, central platform (using cloud computing: a few servers spread around the world) on which many websites converge, making the use of local servers totally superfluous. All personal data known on the Internet can be linked in a quick and easy way to create a nice (though incomplete) picture of people. Selection by characteristics is a piece of cake. The Internet is merciless, everything is stored. Once wrong is always wrong. The individual citizen has no say in the destruction of private data he or she enters on the Internet. Furthermore, there is no legislation here to protect the unsuspecting citizen either. A marketing machine could buy up data, after which you would be bombarded with an overload of offers and opportunities.
  4. The final step is the second and true face of the Internet: where all the knowledge is gathered, there also lies the power. Now it is a handful of leading companies that are collectively engaged in developing the platform. The free market economy will greatly reduce this number. Therefore, it is desirable, the interests of individual citizens and the issues surrounding a central database worldwide should be laid down in a legal manner in which the privacy and protection of individual citizens prevails over economic interests.

Again, we ask the question: what is the end and does the end justify the means? LinkedIn is now publicly traded!