An Orwellian future in store for the internet
By Daniel Taylor
If the world-wide trend continues, ‘Web 3.0’ will be tightly monitored, and will become an unprecedented tool for surveillance. The “Internet of Things”, a digital representation of real world objects and people tagged with
RFID chips, and increased censorship are two main themes for the future of the web.
The future of the internet, according to author and “web critic” Andrew Keen, will be monitored by “gatekeepers” to verify the accuracy of information posted on the web. The “Outlook 2009” report from the November-December issue of The Futurist reports that,
“Internet entrepreneur Andrew Keen believes that the anonymity of today’s internet 2.0 will give way to a more open internet 3.0 in which third party gatekeepers monitor the information posted on Web sites to verify its accuracy.”
Keen stated during his early 2008 interview with The Futurist that the internet, in its current form, has undermined mainline media and empowered untrustworthy “amateurs”, two trends that he wants reversed. “Rather than the empowerment of the amateur, Web 3.0 will show the resurgence of the professional,” states Keen.
Australia has now joined China in implementing mandatory internet censorship, furthering the trend towards a locked down and monitored web.
The Internet of Things
Now, the European Union has announced that it will pursue the main component of Web 3.0, the Internet of Things (IoT).
According to Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media for the EU, “The Internet of the future will radically change our society.” Ultimately, the EU is aiming to “lead the way” in the transformation to Web 3.0.
Reporting on the European Union’s pursuit of the IoT, iBLS reports,
“New technology applications will need ubiquitous Internet coverage. The Internet of Things means that wireless interaction between machines, vehicles, appliances, sensors and many other devices will take place using the Internet. It already makes electronic travel cards possible, and will allow mobile devices to exchange information to pay for things or get information from billboards.”
The Internet of Things consists of objects that are ‘tagged’ with Radio Frequency Identification Chips (RFID) that communicate their position, history, and other information to an RFID reader or wireless network. Most, if not all major computer companies and technology developers (HP, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, etc.) are putting large amounts of time and money into the Internet of Things.
Cisco and Sun Microsystems have founded an alliance to promote the Internet of Things and further its implementation.
South Korea is at the forefront in implementing ubiquitous technology and the Internet of Things. An entire city, New Songdo, is being built in South Korea that fully utilizes the technology. Ubiquitous computing proponents in the United States admit that while a large portion of the technology is being developed in the U.S., it is being tested in South Korea where there are less traditional, ethical and social blockades to prevent its acceptance and use. As the New York Times reports,
“Much of this technology was developed in U.S. research labs, but there are fewer social and regulatory obstacles to implementing them in Korea,” said Mr. Townsend [a research director at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California], who consulted on Seoul’s own U-city plan, known as Digital Media City. ‘There is an historical expectation of less privacy. Korea is willing to put off the hard questions to take the early lead and set standards.'”
An April 2008 report from the National Intelligence Council discussed the Internet of Things and its possible implications.
The report outlines uses for the technology:
“Sensor networks need not be connected to the Internet and indeed often reside in remote sites, vehicles, and buildings having no Internet connection. Smart dust is a term that some have used to express a vision of tiny, wireless-connected sensors; more recently, others use the term to describe any of several technologies that range from the size of a pack of gum to a pack of cigarettes, and that are widely available to system developers.
Ubiquitous positioning describes technologies for locating objects that may reside anywhere, including indoors and underground locations where satellite signals may be unavailable or otherwise inadequate.
Biometrics enables technology to recognize people and other living things, rather than inanimate objects. Connected everyday objects could recognize authorized users by means of fingerprint, voiceprint, iris scan, or other biometric technology.”
These trends towards internet censorship and the internet of things are undoubtedly going to continue, but restricting your free speech and violating your privacy will be harder with your outspoken resistance.