The Internet was born as a small, decentralized collective of computers.
It meant “ Independence of Cyberspace.”
Two decades later, most communications flow through a small set of corporations—and thus, under the profound influence of those companies and other institutions.
Google, for instance, now comprises twenty-five per cent of all North American Internet traffic.
It has become a centralized “computer utility” that offers computing much the same way that power companies provide electricity.
Today, that model is largely embodied by the information empires of Amazon, Google, and other cloud-computing companies.
From independence of Cyberspace we have come to dependence from Cyberspace's utilities providers.
More and more Internet users now submit to terms-of-service agreements that give companies license to share their personal data with other institutions, from advertisers to governments.
We should call it "mea culpa"if it wasn't really others foul play's culpa.
In the U.S.(Europe follows), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a law that predates the Web, allows law enforcement to obtain without a warrant private data that citizens entrust to third parties—including location data passively gathered from cell phones and the contents of e-mails that have either been opened or left unattended for a hundred and eighty days.
The solution is to make the Internet more like it used to be—less centralized and more distributed.
Surely it won't end surveillance, but will make it harder to do it at such a large scale.
The challenge is to make decentralized alternatives that are as secure, convenient, and seductive as a Google account.
More secure won't be difficult, as alluring will be the not easy part.
The peer-to-peer architecture holds the potential for greatly improved privacy and security on the Internet.
But existing apart from commonly used protocols and standards can also preclude any possibility of widespread adoption.