Tim Berners-Lee creator of the World Wide Web recently stated ‘the system is failing’ and by that he meant the internet. The internet he created.
Literally only days after making this statement Ajit Pai the FCC Chairman came out and let the world know the FCC’s intentions to gut Net Neutrality.
Tim however isn’t alone in waving the flag. Many tech elite have been raising concerns for some time now.
Kim Dot Kom the Mega Upload founder and at one point in time the worlds most wanted online pirate recently said in a response to the FCC’s statements “The current corporate internet will be replaced by a better internet”.
Folks, the web as we know it is dead.
You’re probably thinking that’s a misleading statement to make. How can the World Wide Web be dead , you’re using it right now.
Take an animal in the wild with a deadly disease. It’s going to die, it’s just a matter of time.
Recently a disease known as White Nose Syndrome in Bats was discovered.
The infected bats took months to eventually die. At first they started to behave oddly. Instead of flying at night they woke up and flew during the day.
Then the bats started to lose weight and show scarring on their wings.
The bats eventually died. Almost all of them. The disease was so wide spread it killed up to 90% of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) in North America, it spread across 22 states and five Canadian provinces. It literally almost wiped out the little brown bat species.
While you’re not silly enough to believe the web is a living creature, I need to convey something important and so I use the analogy. The web just like our little brown bat buddies is in deep, deep doo doo and Net Neutrality is just the tip of the ice berg.
Lets take a closer look at this soon doomed to melt ice berg. I’ll briefly show you what’s eating the Internet away from the inside and then i’ll tell you about the solution one eccentric Scotsman and his unconventional team of Brave Hearts are working on.
In 2017 alone there have been over 260 major data security breaches and hacks and i’m only counting the ones with over 30,000 pieces of data stolen per hack. The numbers are mental. Tens of millions of records and personal information this year alone.
The further back you go, the more there is. The estimates range from hundreds of millions to billions. No company, government or individual is safe. Hospital records, personal messages and emails, employee and employer data, financial information, patents, credit card numbers, personal photos and videos, live security streams of both commercial and residential properties and even the complete control of vehicles. The list goes on and on and on. If its online or connected it’s not safe, its probably been breached or will be breached.
The reason for this is that security was never built into the web. It wasn’t built to be secure. It was built to be connected.
The most recent buzz in the corporate worlds has been about cloud computing as if it’s some non material thing “It’s secure man, it’s all in the cloud”. This is an out right sham. The cloud is no more secure than any other server model once you take it apart and look at it. But lets not stop there, time is of the essence.
And by the way if you’re one of these people that think I have nothing to hide, let them look. Well…let me enlighten you. Facebook and Google combined have in the area of 100,000 employees. I wonder if you know how many of those employees have access to your data, or your child’s data and how many of them maybe live and work in nations where police employment checks are not required along with a lack of working with childrens check or clearance.
Makes you wonder doesn’t it?
Further down the doo doo ice berg there is the problem of centralized and political control.
Research was barely required for this part of the write-up. Countries like China, North Korea, Iran and Syria come to mind. In these places and others the internet is heavily controlled to the point it can be shut down and access completely removed.
Even in my beautiful and apparently free country of Australia censorship exists in the way of black listed torrent websites.
So what happens when there is social and political change that our governing over lords disagree with? Well in one extreme they completely remove access like we’ve seen happen in in Burma 2007, Libya 2011, Nepal 2005, Egypt 2011 but they don’t always shut it down. At the other end, sometimes they just remove access to communication tools such as Twitter like when Turkey decided to shut it down or the various times nations have shut down trending stories on various mediums that didn’t align with their agenda.
In parallel with the problem of political and government censorship is corporate control and censorship over free speech.
In recent years the shut down of comments, tweets, videos and posts on the most popular networks has been nothing short of extraordinary. And i’m not talking about ISIS beheading videos or some nutty ultra ring winger calling for a racist uprising.
I’m talking about a skinny blonde haired Swedish kid who makes funny videos AKA YouTubes now exiled favorite son PewDiePie. His channel was censored, and self censored to be honest after he was attacked with demonetization tactics for making a satirical video about Hitler which if anyone saw it was clearly and obviously comedy. PewDiePie none the less shortly shot himself in the foot by saying the N word in a gaming video just after he was garnering support mid censorship.
The issue being illustrated here is not what someone says or how a certain person or group can become offended its that organisations which control the flow of traffic and money can shut down whomever they want whenever they want for whatever reason they want. They own and control the web.
An entire book could be dedicated to this topic alone. Twitter removes verification links and shuts down or suspends accounts, YouTube removes videos, shuts down and suspends accounts, Facebook does the same and Google, well Google just decides what the news is among other things.
In the era of fake news Google made the announcement it was going to be working with the private and for profit commercial operation Snopes in order to fact check what it decides to publish as news.
The thing is that Snopes like any organisation has its own political affiliations and Snopes gets it wrong sometimes too. There are dozens of articles pulling Snopes articles apart and some are riddled with issues. But the really awkward thing is that just after Google made the partnership announcement Snopes was on the brink of collapse after being accused of lies, fraud and using company expenses on prostitutes and honeymoons.
Are you starting to see the emerging pattern here? Human’s are part of the problem.
Next we have the problem of payment. That’s right sweet cash. Moolah.
The internet is the worlds largest marketplace to buy, sell, rent, hire or just give and yet there is no single currency that rules them all. In a truly global economy we should be able to trade with one another and currency should’t be a barrier and yet it is.
Right now if you want to go and buy a a certain Matcha tea from Japan via a Japanese website at a decent price i.e. what you’d pay in Japan I guarantee you it’s not that simple. We think it is because we’re accustomed to eBay and Amazon. But it’s really not. You’ll likely end up using an American site that sources the tea or you’ll have to exchange money or you’ll end up paying fees to the likes of PayPal and then that entire process is reversed in Japan on the merchants side, everyone along the line adds their fee and takes a little more meat off the bone so that you with your US dollars and our Japanese friend with his YEN can make the transaction.
I can hear you yelling Bitcoin! And while Bitcoin and it’s Blockchain technology is in my opinion one of the biggest technological and financial advancements I’ve witnessed in my lifetime it is not a true payment solution because it’s not embedded in the web. It sits on top of the web.
People have to force themselves to use it, or not. And as I write this there is only one website I use fairly frequently that I know of which accepts Bitcoin.
And then of course there’s the volatility and scaling issues of Bitcoin, but we wont get into that this time apart from to say that the $7 Pizza you bought a year ago with your Bitcoin is probably in the area of $70 dollars at today’s Bitcoin price.
That is just one half of the problem with money on the web. The other half of the problem is the fair consumption of content and payment for that content.
While we can kind of all agree with Lars from Metallica (C’mon young people) that piracy is bad. The reason piracy happened in the first place was because people had no solution to affordably and easily pay for content. That problem has gotten a little less painful but its not perfect and it never will be.
In it’s current state we either directly pay for music, movies, articles or games and when we do we either over pay or underpay which inevitably means that artists and producers are subject to the same problems in reverse as well as having to fork out and share their income with publishers instead of just doing the deal with the consumer on the other end of the pipe…that, or we just have advertising forced into our eyeballs in exchange for “free” content.
Let’s talk about Net Neutrality. After all that’s why your here.
Net Neutrality’s Unintentional Sleight of Hand.
This fight isn’t new.
Some say it started in 2015. The most recent battle has it’s roots in 2015 but the fight is as old as the internet itself depending what country your in. The USA saw this debate begin as early as 1999, it just wasn’t called Net Neutrality and you’re absolutely kidding yourself if you think its going to go away.
Quoting Ice Cubes old man in one of my favorite movies Friday “you win some, you lose some, but you live, you live to fight another day”. That is the exact same way lawyers think. Lawyers on both sides love a good fight because unlike when you or I get into a bar room knuckle and face wrestle they get paid for it. And as long as there is money to be made from arguing in court you can bet your ass they’re going to.
On one side you have the gatekeepers, the ISP’s and on the other you have the rulers of the land, web real estate owners, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and so on. But I warn you. Don’t be fooled by his one battle, look at the totality of the war these titans are engaged in. Their war is one for the web.
While i’m obviously on the neutrality side I can’t help but see them as being just as bad as one another. Sure, I can understand the old enemy of my enemy is my friend mantra in this situation but at the end of the day neither of these parties has your best interests in mind, they’re just playing a very expensive game of monopoly right now where the end game is control of the web and you still lose either way, it’s unintended sleight of hand in my opinion, but I digress.
Net Neutrality is only a problem because we don’t control the internet.
I’ll repeat part of that, WE DON’T CONTROL THE INTERNET.
That is the sole reason this battle is being played out because we the people don’t control what’s supposed to be our internet.
What if instead of fighting the bull head on we just danced around it and slowly backed out of the ring?
Where would we go?
Wouldn’t we be outside all alone?
No social, no video, no searches and answers, no funny cats or NSFW material?
Nope. And here is why.
A Possible Solution, A New Layer.
The web has layers.
Your school or company intranet is one of those layers, as is your home network if you’ve built one. You might not be able to access Facebook, Instagram or Gmail while in that particular network layer but who says you cant build your own and invite friends.
You’ve undoubtedly heard of anonymous browsing and communication projects like Tor.
Tor and others similar to it such as I2P, Freenet and OpenBazaar are kind of on the right track but they’re a little lack luster, slow and generally kind of clunky if you’ve ever used them and there are reasons for it.
I can break down those reasons and explain the differences but for now lets just say that there are quite a number of issues with those solutions which is why apart from a few seedy characters and basement dwelling nerds there’s no real uptake of those alternatives.
So what happens when you take a similar project like Tor and Freenet and you scale them, you incentivize developers who then build apps, websites and tools such as email, chat, browsers, currency exchanges and so on as well as incentivizing the speedy storage and withdrawal of data and content by nodes with an in built currency that flows through the system and to top it off you automate the entire process keeping it away from central models, servers, governments, corporations and people.
That is exactly what MaidSafe are doing.
The New Way Must Be Autonomous.
MaidSafe is doing it in a way that’ll possibly change the world and with a bunch of cool buzzwords too.
Buzzwords like Decentralized, Open Sourced, Peer to Peer, Anonymous, Encrypted, Self Authenticating, Distributed Digital Tokens and then some.
MaidSafe has been building it’s autonomous “SAFE network” for over a decade. It’s not a new pie in the sky idea that’s going to create it’s own currency, make some money and retire *cough-cough*.
To give you an example of what MaidSafe are doing in relation to the current Net Neutrality news. If the FCC overturns the Net Neutrality decision tomorrow and your ISP decides to charge you X for Y, you open your SAFE network browser or alternative app and do whatever it was you intended on doing circumventing your ISP’s eyes and ears.
The reason you’ll be able to do that with what MaidSafe are creating is because the data on the SAFE network is not hosted centrally on servers. Your ISP is effectively blind to what you’re doing. Each chunk of data uploaded to the network is encrypted, cut up into bits and pieces and then sent out completely anonymously to peer nodes on the network awaiting for you or whomever you’d like to share that data with to retrieve it encrypted, unpack it, put it back together again and enjoy it.
I know you have questions like what if your data is lost, or wont it be slow and so on. For now lets just say no. The network uses data duplication and it’ll always store and retrieve data from the speediest sources as well rewarding those sources for both their uptime and speed at which they process those requests. This part of the system is called farming. Akin to Bitcoin mining the main difference being that expensive hardware or unique knowledge is not required. If you have a computer, phone or tablet you can farm for the SAFE network and in return be paid the network currency for it.
Your data is yours, its always private, it’s always secure and it’s always available. This is what MaidSafe are building and I cannot stress enough that the key here is 100% complete autonomy. No one owns it, no one controls, its self managing and all of that was designed into it from the very beginning.
MaidSafe’s network runs itself with itself by itself and unlike Bitcoin the mechanisms to scale itself are also built into it already.
Don’t take my word for it though. I’m an admitted evangelist. Head on over to SAFE Network and download their Alpha 2 Test Browser, Web Hosting Manager or SAFE Mail Tutorial and see for yourself.
I’m not sure how we got ourselves into this mess and neither is Tim Berners-Lee or Kim Dot Kom but the above is our great escape if you ask me.
The World Wide Web is never going away for good. It’s just not. In the future we’ll have a pretty tightly stacked exponentially large multi layered web where it’ll be perfectly normal for your buddy to ask you “where do I find that bit of content?” and just like now, when you point your friend to a particular website you’ll point them to a specific internet network.
For me I’m just as excited about MaidSafe’s autonomous SAFE network as I was when I was in the 5th grade and my dad turned the Internet on in our house for the first time or when I stayed up till 3am until my eyes felt blistered reading everything I could after I was first introduced to Bitcoin, and you can take that to the bank.
If you remember anything from this, please recall that the only reason Net Neutrality has an effect on you is because the ecosystem that is the internet was never designed to be immune to centralized systems of control and dominance. In lacking immunity coupled with it’s all pervading growth it has become weak and primed for plunder by those who only want to control more of it for their own personal gain. You lose no matter who wins ultimately.
Whatever the solution is, and whomever builds it, it needs to be autonomous.
To learn more go to the SAFE Network.
Hoo Roo and bye for noo.
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