How Is The Internet Doing? Mozilla’s Ambitious Check-Up Effort – Forbes

How can we monitor and assess the health of the Internet? What are the tools to be used for a diagnosis? Which are the markers to consider? With billions of websites and connected objects, the idea of being able to monitor their current conditions might seem overly ambitious, if not outright foolish.

But if there’s one thing the Mozilla Foundation cannot be accused of, is lack of vision and scope. The foundation released earlier this month the alpha version of their Internet Health Report, a forty-pages document giving a broad evaluation of the patient’s condition in five key areas: decentralization, open innovation, online privacy and security, digital inclusion and web literacy.

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As the foundation’s executive director, Mark Surman, maintained in a blog post, the timing of the release couldn’t be more appropriate. The Internet has changed a lot from its glorious, anarchist, experimental early days.

What was once a digital prairie has been largely colonized by a few companies that built their walled gardens, controlling the flow of bytes and information. What’s more, we’re on the verge of other key developments, the impact of which on society is hard to overestimate.

“The Internet of Things, autonomous systems, artificial intelligence: these innovations will no doubt bring good to our lives and society. However, they will also create a world where we no longer simply ‘use a computer,’ we live inside it,” Surman says.

This is already happening, bringing new fears together with enormous opportunities. Think of the Austrian hotel guests who recently found themselves locked inside their rooms, as hackers took control of the facility’s electronic-keys managing system.

Consider how the spread of fake news on social media is affecting the social and political debate around the world. Or look at the millions of jobs that risk disappearing due to widespread automation.

Version 0.1 of the Internet Health Report tries to highlight the positive outcomes of the digital revolution, while singling out the dangers to avoid.

It’s healthy, for sure, that anyone is able to create a website, and that all sites are treated equally by the Internet, allowing millions to express their own knowledge and creativity. Open innovation on the Internet, however, “is threatened by bad policies, the devaluation of common standards, and the fragmentation of the global Internet.”

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