It’s hard to imagine what the Internet didn’t make easier. It revolutionized communication and the transfer of information, it gave every user a voice and a medium through which to communicate ideas and knowledge and it serves as one of the driving forces for globalization. The Web, the platform through which we utilize the Internet, was founded on principles of open access and universality: unfettered access and universal use of the Web by anyone. However, as Internet access and Web use proliferates around the world, the principles that once defined the Web are slowly coming under fire from the corporations and governments that provide service or content.
Internet privacy rights are an issue of debate in nearly any case of proposed Internet regulation or legislation. Some privacy infringements are made under the guise of ease-of-access, such as an advertiser monitoring your search history and creating advertisements based on your relative search inquiries. If one were to consider the implications if a government were able to monitor its citizens Internet access or the information they send and receive, then the importance of privacy is all too apparent.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, companies that limit the Internet or use different technical standards to operate and confine their content limit progress and innovation. Apple’s controversial use of Digital Rights Management or DRM encoding caused a negative reaction from the public because they restricted the ways in which media could be transferred and accessed. Social networking sites are also prime examples of “walled off” or restricted content; users information is protected and hidden from general Internet access, only accessible through the website or application themselves. While these methods of control may keep the companies safe, they are also providing for a means through which they can limit access and communication.
The future of the Internet and the Web is vague and hazy at best. The burgeoning technologies and innovations that define the progress of the Web also spur on debate for Internet privacy and security. The threat of infringement of rights or access is all too real, but it’s important to remember and uphold the founding concepts behind the Web and ensure open and universal access to all.