Given a totally clean slate, how would you design a new Internet that was more efficient and secure?
The internet was originally created, almost as an experiment, by academics for simple communication. Over time, this ‘experiment’ has morphed into something larger that now connects us all via a single network.
The internet has no single owner, or chief designer. In fact, the platform hosts billions of designers who are simultaneously implementing features as they desire. In an effort to provide some form of governance, ICANN attempts to provide organisational control around IP addresses and domain names. However, apart from that, it is mostly ungoverned.
Like many modern inventions, the internet can be used for both good and bad. In a similar way that a car can get someone from A to B quickly, the internet can help people connect instantly with one another over long distances. On the other hand, the anonymity which the internet offers could be used for dishonest activities such as false news, identity theft, or malware, just to name a few.
With a totally free slate to start over again, Fujitsu would recommend the following improvements:
- Implement security by design. By embedding good security in the framework of the network, and not just at applications, the internet could provide a secure platform for all businesses.
- Implement zero trust. Anonymity provides a cover for bad actors such as trolls, bullies, stalkers and criminals. Removing this could help control them. In practice, although this may be impossible to implement, it is worth considering how it could be done in conjunction with maintaining the privacy of the individual.
- Implement an Internet Bill of Rights. This would underpin the design and include elements such as the right to privacy, opt-in consent, access to individuals’ own datasets, data collection ethics, fair practices, and more.
With all these controls in place, the internet would be a much safer place, at least initially. However, this would mean handing control of the internet over to the government, compromising the space of its original independence and openness.
In summary, the great power of the internet comes down to society’s decisions of what is considered acceptable. And, while there are some downsides to the internet, such as addiction, bullying, malware, violent or explicit images, never being able to disconnect from work, and more, it is a place of opportunity. Individuals with great ideas can leverage the platform to make something great, or even revolutionary, happen. As a result, the cost to improve the internet outweighs the benefits that could be achieved.