The Internet: Time for a check-up

The Internet: Time for a check-up
The Internet: Time for a check-up

The Mozilla Foundation has released a report regarding how healthy the Internet is. It is a compilation of research and stories that act as a barometer of the ‘health’ of the Internet. The report argues that a healthy Internet is one that is free from online harassment and fake news, is secure both by protocols and from censorship, and finally, one that is open for competition unlike the state of play with the large monopolies of today’s Internet.

The core of the report contains three “spotlights” (case studies), and five “issues” complete with rich data and graphs.

Over the coming weeks volunteers from the Pirate Party will be analysing each of the Issues and writing blog posts to highlight aspects that we can solve both with policies and campaigns. In the meantime, here is a summary of each of the spotlight case studies.


Securing the Internet of Things

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This section explains how the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is expanding rapidly (an expected 30 billion devices will be online in 2020; that’s double in comparison to 2015) and insecurely. From hacking into children’s’ dolls for malicious use of the in-built cameras and microphones to the Mirai botnets that successfully brought down banks and companies worldwide. The Internet of Things might be great, improving our lives with smart thermostats and home CCTV camera’s; or it might be brand new platform for attack and surveillance. The report suggests that a trademark is developed for IoT devices, this trademark would be awarded if; remote software updates where included, the device came with a strong random password and you could track back the device (via a URI or similar) to the manufacturer. PPUK are looking to see how best to codify this policy into our manifesto.

Understanding fake news

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Understanding fake news: Russian bots, sensationalist media, and alternative facts, our sources of news are getting more dubious by the day. This section investigates who’s making fake news (and it’s not just the Russians) and why they’re doing it. Understanding media manipulation is all the more critical in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that showed just how much companies can exploit our data; when coupled with fake news this has the potential to undermine public trust in the democratic system and to create dystopian “Fahrenheit 451” futures. PPUK is investigating the ability to see who paid for a targetted ad (the greater the budget put into the advertising campaign, the more data would have to be harvested to justify the budget) to ensure that people can see directly who is trying to persuade them.

Too big tech

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Have Internet giants become too big, and if so how could we regulate them? How can governments control companies who sometimes have more money than the governments themselves? And in an age of super-monopolies, how do we ensure that the Internet is a level playing field where startups can thrive? These are all questions posed by “Too big tech”. The Pirate Party firmly believes that the Internet should be a true ‘American dream’ where anyone, of any group and any social class, can become successful with the right ideas and with enough commitment. It is this spirit that spurred on the Internet in its early days and why it is so successful today. We would ensure this by allowing anyone to access a broadband connection [1]. Furthermore, we are investigating how best to implement ‘interoperability’ (interoperability is where one application, such as Whatsapp, can send messages to Signal or any other messaging app) to ensure messaging platforms aren’t limited to a small number of providers. This may be achieved through promoting the use of communications protocols that are not encumbered by IPR licenses, and that have open and freely accessible specifications.


Each of these sections describes issues can be read individually without having read any previous part of the report. We plan to structure our coverage in much the same way although we may link back to points in our previous articles due to the interlinked nature of the issues. If, after reading the report, you are inspired with a policy idea you can submit a policy proposal on Gitlab (email mailto:[email protected]), come and talk on Discord (http://discord.pirateparty.org.uk), or volunteer (https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/campaigns/volunteer).

Sources:

  1. https://www.pirateparty.org.uk/policy/digital-economy-and-digital-rights/guarantee-basic-internet-connection

About the Pirate Party

The Pirate Party in the UK is a fledgling political party. It has fielded a few candidates in European and National elections, but like most small parties it is significantly constrained by the UK electoral system. Despite this, the Pirate Party has started to poll alongside major parties and is looking to build support from the grassroots. The party stood 10 candidates in the June 2017 General Election and briefly held 2 community councillors. Find out more about the UK Pirate Party on our website or contact [email protected]

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