lecture: Blurry line between private service and public infrastructure

Or: how we're losing the Internet


The Net is vast and decentralized; it treats censorship as damage and routes around it... not. We're losing the open Internet to closed, walled gardens due to our own complacency, giving up control over our communication to a few corporations. What could possibly go wrong?..

We're decentralizing IANA and ICANN, so that no single entity has overwhelming control over the Internet, which is cute when we take into account that most of what everybody does on the Internet these days happens on Facebook.

The power to impound domains starts to look meager compared to the power of the power Facebook has over groups and events. We're using a private service as if it was public infrastructure and act surprised when information on manipulating our feeds comes out.

Decentralised, federated services and platforms are many, but use incompatible protocols, making it hard for users to choose, and fragmenting the community, making it look weak and small.

Is there a way out? Can we do anything about it?

Network neutrality debate showed that there are legitimate places where regulation can come in. Maybe we should explore and define how large communication platforms, regardless of protocols used, can be regulated to ensure interoperability between different platforms?

Walled gardens, for all intents and purposes, can be seen as monopolies. Should they be treated as such? And where do we draw a line between a small private forum and a huge, vertically-integrated communication monopoly?

The battle for the open Internet has just begun, and so far we're not really winning.


Day: 2014-11-01
Start time: 12:00
Duration: 00:45
Room: C444
Track: Code, data and infrastructure
Language: en



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