Experts Say Four Threats Put Internet Freedom at Risk

The open nature of the Internet faces several threats over the next ten years that could severely curtail online liberty, according to a new report published by the Pew Research Center. The think tank released their survey of more than 1,400 analysts and experts as part of their series called "The Web at 25."

Most respondents said they believe the way individuals access information wonEUt significantly change for the worse by 2025. However, the research identified four key threats that pose serious concerns, including (1) efforts by nation-states to maintain political control by filtering, blocking or segmenting the Internet, (2) erosion of trust stemming from government and corporate surveillance, (3) efforts by corporations to further commercialize the online world, and (4) attempts by individuals to filter their own online exposure to combat information overload.

Great Firewall of China

The report highlighted attempts by governments such as China to control the flow of information across the Internet by restricting access. Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey were also singled out for their attempts to prevent their citizens from viewing content their governments find objectionable.

Even in Britain, "ISPs block sites the government considers EUterroristEU or otherwise dangerous,EU Dave Burstein, editor of Fast Net News, pointed out in his response to the survey.

While blocking terrorist communications can obviously be beneficial, some industry watchers are concerned about the related threat of government censorship growing out of control, even in democracies. Burstein noted that, EUThere will usually be ways to circumvent the obstruction, but most people wonEUt bother."

Other experts quoted in the survey argued that opposing trends will counteract government censorship efforts. EUThereEUs a lot of work underway now in developing open-source, interoperable, and encrypted versions of social media, in response to the increasing authoritarianism and state collaboration of existing walled-garden media,EU Kevin Carson, a senior fellow...

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