As you are here you may agree the Internet is a damn awesome place. It has provided us services like e-mail, memes, videos of cats playing piano, and more amazing lists than you can shake a proverbial stick at. It’s also freed up information and helped topple dictatorships.
But there are storm clouds gathering on the online horizon. Halfway through the second decade of the 21st century, it’s starting to look like our sunny utopia won’t last much longer. Across the world, cultural trends, governments, and corporations are uniting to suck what joy is left from the Internet, leaving it a shell of its former self.
Governments Are Destroying Internet Security
You may remember the fuss about the NSA installing “backdoors” into all methods of electronic communication. This would mean no message could be sent online that couldn’t be read, and no activity undertaken that couldn’t be monitored. While there are worthwhile debates to be had about privacy versus security, there’s a greater risk. Installing backdoors would completely compromise the security of the Internet.
The moment a door is opened in a company’s encryption, it can’t be closed again. Anyone can use it, provided they have the know-how. There is no ‘golden key’ only the good guys can use. This means gangsters, terrorist, thieves, and malicious hackers can all access your encrypted information. In other words, the minute Apple sticks a backdoor in their code, your passwords, PayPal, and credit card information are available for anyone to use.
Currently, many governments are planning to utilize these backdoors on a large scale. Under David Cameron, the UK is at the forefront of this. If plans go ahead, they would make any transaction carried out online in the UK extremely vulnerable to hacking. Imagine an Internet where buying anything, sending anything, or downloading anything might result in your bank account being emptied and your security compromised. Unless governments wise up, that might be the Internet we’ll soon be getting.
Unpaid Content Is Clogging Up The Internet With Nonsense
Have you ever gone online and found yourself wading through a swamp of badly written copy-paste articles? Have you ever wondered where it all comes from? It’s not bloggers you want to blame. It’s the content farms paying their writers zilch for their effort.
a website that pays nothing for its content and gets lots of hits clearly has a more lucrative business model than one that pays its journalists to take on a long story. So you get a situation where respected editors can’t fund in-depth pieces or have to produce crappy click bait alongside their serious stuff to do so. Meanwhile, young writers look at the salaries on offer to journalists and go into PR instead, leading to a future dearth of decent articles.
Bots Outnumber People
Imagine living in a city where robots vastly outnumber people. Now imagine a quarter of those robots are programmed to do nothing more than attack and rob every single human they pass. How safe would you feel? Because that’s exactly what the modern Internet has become.
The year 2014 marked the first time in history that bots outnumbered people online. On Amazon’s cloud servers, bots make up a staggering 78 percent of traffic. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. Bots allow Google to return useful results instead of pages of spam sites. They keep your Facebook news feed going and generally hold the Internet together. Unfortunately, as the use of regular bots has grown, so has the use of malicious bots. Like some dystopian sci-fi film, 23 percent of bots now want to steal your credit card information, get into your e-mail, or just screw your online experience up. And their numbers are growing.
On some websites, over a third of traffic is now malicious bots. After barely registering in 2013, they’re now swarming over mobile devices. Thanks to large corporations like Amazon and T-Mobile using setups that are crying out to be abused, doing anything online is becoming increasingly tiresome for those of us who value our privacy and bank accounts. Unless large websites start doing more to improve security, bad bots are going to become a very real problem.
Free Apps are Screwing Us
Most of us are probably aware that free apps are too good to be true. We know they mine our data and sell our details on to bigger companies. But that’s not all they do. Plenty of your favorite free apps are seemingly out to destroy you.
Maybe the only free plug-in you use is AdBlockPlus, to get rid of all those annoying auto-play videos. Well, it recently came to light that ABP was selling companies the option to get around their software. This means not only do you still see ads, but ABP is running itself like an old-school mob protection racket.