Discover six internet threats you can't even imagine

Feb 29, 2016
net neutrality
freedom of speech
Discover the hidden internet threats that jeopardize privacy, freedom of speech, and the integrity of the web.
In the same way that electricity, treated water, and sewage are, the importance of the Internet is rarely consciously perceived in everyday life. Nobody denies how fundamental it is, but, like the essential items mentioned earlier, our dependence is more easily measured in its absence. In recent years, the Web has begun to suffer more systematic harassment. Even so, the global perception of the seriousness of the matter is MUCH lower than it should be. Still not convinced? No problem - by the end of this article, which lists five threats to the integrity of the Web, you will be.

Net neutrality

What is it? Net neutrality is one of the basic components of the Internet. The network architecture was designed to ensure that all data entering the network, wherever it comes from, is treated equally. So, when you click 'Enter', regardless of anything else, the data you sent circulates the web in chronological order and no information packet has advantages over others. Why is it fundamental? Without net neutrality, all types of censorship and omnipotence of economic power could occur on the Web. Internet providers could charge companies for special treatment for their requests (for example, making their site faster), but it doesn't stop there. Governments (and not only) would be able to shape traffic, slowing down or even making opposition, activist or watchdog sites inaccessible. It wouldn't make the slightest difference whether you have a good connection or not, because ultimately, what you could access or not would be predefined. And are abuses really happening or is it paranoia? Examples are not lacking. Countries with less democratic governments like China, Bahrain, and Iran have traffic ranging from "controlled" to open censorship. Even in the USA, which sees itself as the delta of democracy, there are Internet providers trying to break neutrality, blackmailing companies in exchange for special treatment - ask Netflix's CEO about it.

Right to privacy

What is it? It's pretty self-explanatory: you have the right not to reveal any data that you don't want to. In this case, the Internet is not threatened - it has already been largely violated, thanks to the small print that everyone (including me and you, unless you are Edward Snowden or Julian Assange) "accepts" without reading. The number of people turning their data upside down is obscene, and includes technology giants (virtually all), governments, corporations, advertisers, and a lot of "good people". The video below is excellent for you who says, "ah, it's not me. I'm very careful. I'm not a fool". #innocent.
Why is it fundamental? For the same reason why you don't stick a post-it with your bank password on your card or enter a motel screaming when you leave there with your sister-in-law. People have the right to expose the part of their lives that they want and only that. The argument that all this rigor with privacy "increases the risk of terrorism" is almost pathetic, because not even the terrorists of the Kurt Cobain Revolutionary Command know the basics about not 'Liking' the FBI fanpage. And are abuses really happening or is it paranoia? Most people would be horrified to know how they leave traces on the Internet, from nonsense spat out on WhatsApp to banking operations and information that they would like not to appear on Google's homepage. To give you an idea: the largest government surveillance apparatus in the history of mankind was the Stasi, the secret police of East Germany, which had a large part of the population registered as an informant. During the nearly five decades of the communist regime, the Stasi's records had accumulated the equivalent of a 12-story building the size of a block filled only with paper. Following the same metric of twelve-story-buildings-full-of-printed-paper, the illegal snooping of the NSA - and only the NSA - would fill a twelve-story building the size of Africa (see this infographic that gives more examples). If you are reading this text on the Internet (and as we know, you are, right?), the chance of you having been snooped on by the American agency is 50% (it is not a mistake - it is that).

Freedom of speech

What is it? It's pretty clear, isn't it? Why is it fundamental? It's equally clear, but it's worth reflecting: there is no case of a democratic society in the full enjoyment of civil liberties that has survived more than 5 minutes without freedom of expression. The industrial amount of stupidity that the Internet has unleashed and that gives us the total certainty that humanity today has more stupid people is just an annoying symptom, but necessary, of democracy (which is now also digital). And are abuses really happening or is it paranoia? Call a friend or relative in a series of places - from Venezuela to China - and ask. He probably won't answer or ends up in jail. But it's understandable, right?

Government regulation

What is it? The impact of the Internet on society and the economy has created an unbelievable series of solutions, but it has certainly generated disputes, threats, and inequalities that were not previously subject to law. Unfortunately, the government rarely acts on behalf of the citizen, preferring to meet the interests of those who finance campaigns or give bribes and create laws that serve those who have power and money. Creating laws can be a great way to guarantee the rights of corporations, industries, and millionaires, decadent or not, preventing more beneficial solutions for everyone. Not to mention taxes, a word that makes all rulers horny. Why is it fundamental? Once we have to live with capitalism until a better solution appears, it is fundamental to ensure that the solutions that best serve society prevail over those that give privileges to cartel leaders, profligate governments that need suckers to pay the bill (like me and you), powerful or despots on duty. And are abuses really happening or is it paranoia? Think of a bad, expensive service, provided by poorly educated professionals and that sustain a cartel of a few who claim a bad legislation to continue making money. Uber x taxi drivers? WhatsApp x telephone companies? Did the gong sound? Then you understand.

Intellectual property

What is it? It is the term that guarantees the author of a work or idea a remuneration on the commercial exploitation of his work. The Internet has caused a profound change because for the first time it was possible to reproduce items (such as music or movies) not only on a large scale but also with a marginal or null additional cost. If I could record a cassette tape in the 70s from my friend who had Ozzy Osbourne's first solo album, why does the damn record company now want me to download the music paying for it when the extra expense they have is zero? Of course, the discussion doesn't stop at this detail, but definitely the corporations that exploited copyright contributing little or nothing to the creation of these works are foaming and will do whatever is necessary to maintain their privileges. Society, however, has other needs and the use of intellectual rights will never be as before - whether the industry likes it or not. Why is it fundamental? In history, information retention has always been done by tyrannies to prevent citizen empowerment (will anyone say that the Catholic Church only wanted the "good" of people by having the primacy of copying books?). This hasn't changed. In the last two centuries, the industry and legislation manipulated the exchange of information to meet their own interests, only that digital has annihilated the competitive advantages that these gatekeepers had. Free software and content under Creative Commons license are the tip of the iceberg of a new intellectual rights environment that will not have traces of trinkets like decadent Hollywood. Definitely "The Winter is Coming" for them. And are abuses really happening or is it paranoia? The original text of S.O.P.A, a bill created by Hollywood and sold by Hollywood lobbyists was so disgusting that, basically, if you filmed your child singing a Madonna song and put the video on YouTube, you could be sued and fined millions of reais. The Pirate Bay is Hollywood's real nightmare and not by chance, it hunts the three Swedes like rabid dogs. Watch the excellent documentary "The Pirate Bays - Away from Keyboard" to get situated.

Network access

What is it?  You've had, have or will have web access so outrageous that it made you lose your mind at some point. In countries like Brazil, where the legislation of regulatory agencies usually comes with the stamp of concessionary companies, the citizen ends up without real alternatives for competition. Or then, in underdeveloped countries, access simply does not exist. For a large part of the world, you do not exist if you do not have network access. Why is it fundamental? Controlling network access (whether by legislation, economically, or by cartelization) puts practically society as a whole at risk: it becomes easier for popular or authoritarian governments to spoil elections, the growth of the digital economy gets stuck and even educational initiatives are stillborn due to lack of structure. See this list of countries arranged according to the average speed of web access. Countries with dictatorships and 'populist' democracies bite the dust. No need to count - Brazil is in 46th place, with just over half the global average. And are abuses really happening or is it paranoia? Paranoia? If you've never intensely wished that the world would start to end at your service provider's headquarters after the telemarketing attendant asked if you "could be turning off the modem" or that they were going to "reinforce the signal", as if it were Sabesp [São Paulo water company], throw the first stone.

© Cassiano Gobbet 2023 - 2024