July 3, 2014

Net Threats

Elaborations: More Expert Responses

Respondents in this canvassing note that the online environment is going through considerable change as it evolves technologically and politically.

Some point out there is a constant swing between distributed activity that is built on citizen enthusiasm about the unhindered sharing of ideas and the type of central control characterized by restrictions on the exchange of ideas—sometimes in the name of perceived cultural benefits that nevertheless reduce the dissemination of ideas.

Respondent Robert Cannon, a leading U.S. Internet law and policy expert with many years of experience at the federal level, argued that the Internet is now potentially entering its consolidation phase and therein lies the threat:

“We have seen the repeat of the same pattern … seen during the introduction of telegraph, telephone, and radio services. There is the initial utopian introduction that greets the technology with claims of world peace. There is an era of competition where multiple small firms rise up and take advantage of the new market and innovation. And then there is an era of consolidation as the winners from the competitive era move to secure their position in the market and eliminate competitors. In the information era, we have moved into the era of consolidation.

There are fewer and fewer owners of major media outlets online, and end-users are concentrating their traffic on fewer and fewer sites. And yet, what makes the information era different is that the means of the ‘long tail’ content creator to rise up and create content still exists. Unlike other cycles where the era of consolidation also raised barriers to entry, in the modern information era, the barriers to entry still remain low. But this can change as conduit becomes entangled with content or service.

As networks move forward and away from end-to-end design, they can eliminate the possibilities of innovation by eliminating what is possible on the network, and curbing innovation. They can, in effect, raise the barriers of entry. This is the core concern of the Net neutrality debate: Will the Internet of the future look like the radio market or the telegraph market after consolidation, with few players controlling content—or will it continue to look like the never-ending marketplace of ideas?”

David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, put the future possibilities more succinctly: “The future challenge: The Internet gets owned and packaged as a set of content and we treat it like cable TV. The future opportunity: Free culture becomes ever more lively, and people are enjoying content that they recognize was created by people like them.”

The optimists have their say about the future of content sharing: More people, more access, more mobile, more relevant material

There are many optimists in this canvassing who believe that Weinberger’s upbeat possibility can be realized. Many also make positive predictions that acknowledge threats:

Charlie Firestone, executive director of the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, responded, “There are two levels of hindrance I foresee, but I expect both will not happen. The first is technological, but I believe more people will have greater access to the Internet or online equivalent in 2025, i.e., more and better broadband access. Second, would be hindrances from governments. While there will be a period of greater governmental hindrance between now and 2025, I believe this will be resolved in the opposite direction by 2025—that is, greater access even in countries that currently restrict access.”

Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft Research, observed, “Today, people in some countries are hindered from accessing online information, but smaller mobile devices have made it more difficult to censor. I am guardedly optimistic that information providers and consumers will continue to elude government censorship. Information does seem to want to be free, and technology has made that easier on balance. I do not see a potent threat looming, and the commercial interest in disseminating information should not be underestimated.”

Jim Leonick, a director of new product development for Ipsos Interactive Services, predicted, “Content will be easier to access, share and find, more personalized and relevant, and aspects of sharing and downloading will be more secure, which will be the catalyst for change in people wanting to sell their personal data to pay for the things they cannot today and choose to pirate.”

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, responded, “People are going to get what they want, and they want to share content.”

Marina Gorbis, executive director at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research organization, noted young people will continue to drive Internet expansion, writing, “The amount of open information online has been growing exponentially. The younger generations are growing up in an environment in which they see themselves as a part of a larger whole; they see others as a part of their extended brain. They can pose a question online and someone will have an answer, they can collaborate easily with others, and they can find online resources to learn almost anything.”

Miguel Alcaine, International Telecommunication Union area representative for Central America, responded, “The Internet ecosystem will evolve, technically, politically, socially as to allow people to share all the content online they want to share. Although, there will be national borders being drawn in cyberspace, interoperability and connectivity will be crucial for all countries around the world. The challenges lie in the balance between sovereignty and connectivity and interoperability, between intellectual property and common use, between anonymity, privacy, and security.”

Francois-Dominique Armingaud, a retired computer engineer for IBM now teaching security at universities, wrote, “We will have better control of personal information, including published on social networks: who accesses it, users being warned every time someone accesses it (who, when, why), consolidation. We can probably expect our homes’ network-attached storage (NAS) devices to become more and more our personal secretaries and to coordinate with many other NAS-secretaries according to privacy zones: close family and intimate friends, interest groups, commercial offers. Google has clearly already understood that with Google Agenda and the new Gmail. Future opportunities: we can fluidify information to free us from tedious information housekeeping (hopefully!) Future challenges: the authentication of people and information.”

John Wilbanks, chief commons officer for Sage Bionetworks, sees a mixed future emerging from today’s trends, observing, “I’d prefer to answer this as both yes and no. The power of the activated individual to get and share content will be extreme, and free software tools and encryption will be sufficiently powerful to do damn near anything. But the vast majority of the population will access the network infrastructure through connected devices and applications that restrict sharing of content to propagate the culture of content control.”

Bryan Alexander, senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, predicted, “In 2025 1) Intellectual property continues to cramp content creation, sharing, and consumption. 2) National governments in intense security mode will block all kinds of movement. 3) Uneven technological deployment breaks up audiences. 4) Economic stress seems to lead us into conservativism, not openness. The opportunities that lie ahead include 1) Younger generations not wedded to 20th-century experience, and rendered skeptical by the global recession. 2) Commoditization of technologies make it easier to make stuff.”

The remainder of this report will expand upon the content shared in the Summary, including additional expert comments organized under the theme headings that identify some of the overarching threats they foresee.

Threat theme 1) Actions by nation-states to maintain security and political control will lead to more significant blocking, filtering, segmentation, and balkanization of the Internet.

Barbara Simons, a highly decorated retired IBM computer scientist, former president of the ACM, and current board chair for Verified Voting, wrote, “Already countries are putting up walls to prevent their citizens from accessing websites that the leadership does not want them to see. I fear this will only increase.”

A senior policy adviser for a major U.S. Internet service provider said, “The biggest threat to the realization of the Internet’s fullest potential will be authoritarian and protectionist governments. The balkanization of the Internet, threatened by some of the world’s leading nations and fueled by the behavior of the NSA, poses a major threat to maximizing the Internet’s global social and economic value.”

David Allen, an academic and advocate engaged with the development of global Internet governance, observed, “Balkanization is already well underway. Totalitarian states particularly are driven to ring themselves about. Unfortunately, the supposed beacons of democracy in the West have all too often also proven they too can violate the basic norms. The only serious prospect for better outcomes is a truly democratic global regime, for global Internet governance. See, for instance, the NETmundial meeting in Brazil. 1 Of course that is only one small step—the future is more than uncertain.”

An anonymous Internet engineer predicted, “The whack-a-mole nature of the Internet will continue unabated.”

Lyman Chapin, co-founder and principal of Interisle Consulting Group, observed,
“Popular access to information is the biggest threat to the maintenance of political tyranny, and governments of every stripe will therefore continue to search for economic, technical, and administrative mechanisms of Internet content and access control. They will undoubtedly succeed within limited temporal and spatial domains, but they cannot succeed on any large scale, because the Internet is by definition a voluntary agreement that cannot be ‘governed’ regardless of how stringently any of the pieces from which it can be assembled is regulated.”

Jillian C. York, director for international freedom of expression for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, responded, “While surveillance is the most often discussed threat these days, censorship still poses a major threat to communications worldwide. More than one-third of those who access the Internet are accessing a censored version of it and that number continues to grow. We need to continue the development of circumvention tools, and also ensure that those tools provide security.”

Threat theme 2) Trust will evaporate in the wake of revelations about government and corporate surveillance and likely greater surveillance efforts in the future.

Jari Arkko, Internet expert for Ericsson and chair of the Internet Engineering Task Force, wrote, “We will move to an easier world. However, excessive surveillance, data gathering, and privacy violations can endanger the will of the world’s citizens to employ global innovations.”

A 25-year veteran of technology research and entrepreneurship now holding the titles of both professor and CEO urged, “We need to stop applying commercial rules (copyright, patents) to private lives … Participants in commercial service offerings must retain unalienable rights that can’t be signed over to a corporation; there needs to be strong oversight of commercial and government uses of information. Only if these uses can be trusted can people be expected to fully participate.”

The principal software architect for a large Internet company predicted, “Governments will increasingly attempt to manage content sharing, which will make it harder for people to communicate and share online. People will increasingly demand privacy improvements.”

The president of a technology consulting company wrote, “The most significant threat to content sharing is perceptions of privacy and security. Dummy policies and/or policies with loopholes will be created to address this perception of the general population and ensure that content is shared and what is shared is accessible by governments.”

Alf Rehn, chair of management and organization at Abo Akademi University in Finland, wrote, “The main threat to sharing is the sharers themselves. Call it the meme-ocalypse.”

Stuart Chittenden, founder of the conversation consultancy Squishtalks, recommended, “Read Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble, which captures many of my concerns. The Internet is a controlled environment, where the product online is the data about the people that are using it. Governments want to gather and control that information to and about its citizenry, companies want to exploit it and direct us secretly for profit, and military/espionage entities want to snoop.”

Threat theme 3) Commercial pressures affecting everything from Internet architecture to the flow of information will endanger the open structure of online life.

A significant number of respondents said they fear that economic pressures of every variety will diminish many aspects of information sharing and access by 2025. Among the topics most mentioned in this category are: Network neutrality; copyright, intellectual property, and patent law; and governments’ and corporations’ general lack of foresight and capability for best enabling the digital future due to a focus on near-term gains. Some even expressed fears that the Internet will be forced into the subscription-television model.

Leigh Estabrook, dean and professor emerita at the University of Illinois, shared three economics-based issues that were commonly expressed by many survey respondents, writing, “The biggest threats right now are 1) the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] policies on Net neutrality in the US; 2) the ways in which ISPs [Internet service providers] are policing users and use; and 3) the policies of the World Trade Organization globally.”

Following is a closer look at some of the commonly expressed concerns over economic pressures.

Commercial pressures subtheme 1: Net neutrality might not survive, negatively impacting the future of access and sharing: ‘What the carriers want—badly—is to move television to the Net.’

Since the 1990s, independent scholars, among them Lawrence Lessig, Barbara van Schewick, Brett Frischman, Tim Wu, and Mark Lemley, have developed research and arguments in favor of the economic and social benefits of neutral networks—public networks that operate in such a way as to treat all senders and receivers of content as equally as is technologically possible while operating the network well.2 Opponents to Net neutrality as a hard and fast concept say differentiated services can be useful and fairly applied in a public network, depending upon the needs of users, the will of operators, and the capability of technology.

A number of the experts canvassed in this survey say they expect that if corporations are permitted to operate differentiated services online it will lead to such threats as the blocking of some content, the favoring of some content over other material, and monopoly-style pricing.

An anonymous respondent wrote, “The loss of Net neutrality changes all. No more information freeway, it will be an information toll road.”

Some who wish to protect the principles represented by Net neutrality said they fear the invocation of the television model. For instance, as noted earlier, Doc Searls of Harvard University warned, “What the carriers actually want—badly—is to move television to the Net, and to define the Net in TV terms: as a place you go to buy content, as you do today with cable … This by far is the most serious threat to sharing information on the Net, because it undermines and sidelines the Net’s heterogeneous and distributed system for supporting everybody and everything, and biases the whole thing to favor a few vertically-integrated ‘content’ industries.”

An Internet pioneer and author wrote, “The states and industries that were taken by surprise when the radically decentralized control structure of the Internet enabled billions of people to have printing presses and broadcasting stations on their desktops and in their pockets have been acting successfully to take back the centralization of power that they used to have. Copyright extension into the digital realm, ubiquitous state surveillance, the rollback of Net neutrality, the narrowing of choices for access providers all point to a recentralization of power. Citizens who use the Internet have to be both technology geeks and policy wonks to even understand what Net neutrality is about. The advantage is to the indefatigable lobbyists.”

A researcher based at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government predicted, “We will probably see modification of Net neutrality, with the consequence that some types of high-quality video and other applications will be reserved for people with means. But that is largely already the case, and so the trend will not significantly change our social and economic situation. Information/knowledge inequality will increase, exacerbating inequality, but not by an order of magnitude.”

Some say that unfettered Internet access should be a guarantee to all.

To realize its full potential, the Internet, as a medium and infrastructure (cables, etc.), has to be redefined, legislated, and maintained as a public domain where freedom of speech operates fully. Access to the Internet should be guaranteed globally in the same way as education, healthcare, food, and housing are guaranteed now in some countries.An associate professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada

Dennis McCann, a director of computer training in Illinois, formerly a senior technical consultant at Cisco and IBM, provided a suggestion for change: “The Internet community, which has labored in the shadows of the network providers, needs to erupt with technical solutions and engage more widely in advocacy…. One hopeful sign is the Internet of Things, which is poised to overwhelm provider capacity and to usher in a new era, leapfrogging today’s service-delivery model as the Internet always has, and creating demand for more open service with the dollars involved driving the change.”

Commercial pressures subtheme 2: Copyright protections and patent law will negatively influence online life

Disputes over the future of copyright and intellectual property regulation in the digital age and problems with patent regulation were pointed out as threats to knowledge sharing in the future by a large number of respondents.

Bill St. Arnaud, a self-employed green Internet consultant active in the Internet Society, said, “The most serious threat to accessing and sharing content on the Internet in North America and Europe will be the music and film copyright Gestapo and their partners in crime, the broadband oligopoly. People in countries that live in the post-copyright era like China and Korea will reap the benefits of being free from DMCA and other such nonsense. Unfortunately the powers that be are so entrenched I see very little probability of anything changing by 2025, even if China and other countries race ahead with compelling content and sharing. The two biggest challenges that are stopping people to fully realize the benefit of the Internet are our third-world broadband and copyright cartels.”

A director of a futures-oriented program based at the Georgia Institute of Technology wrote, “The increasing assertion of intellectual property rights is a major barrier to innovation.”

Andrew Bridges, a partner and Internet law litigator and policy analyst at Fenwick & West LLP, wrote, “Governments and powerful incumbent-business groups will seek to limit the power of individuals that arises from new technologies and communications platforms, because they fear that power as a threat to established interests… The most significant challenges are the increasing efforts by certain business, political, and government sectors to isolate individuals, to fragment groups, to repress speech and publications, to stifle innovation, and to treat as property all knowledge and information.”

Luis Hestres, a graduate research assistant at American University, responded, “The technological architectures of corporate online intermediaries are increasingly all that govern what sort of content users can post online. These … reflect the interests of corporations and do not necessarily align with the best interests of a vibrant online public sphere.”

Linda Rogers, the founder of Music Island in Second Life and grant writer for Arts for Children and Youth in Toronto, wrote, “People are not worried enough. Governments and copyright organizations are fighting hard to restrict the flow of information and content. While I don’t believe they will ultimately be successful in pulling the plug on connectivity, they will likely have made it harder for the average citizen unless there is increased fight-back. So far I don’t see that happening. People’s fear of spying by governments may stop them from using the Internet for political and social organizing.”

Elizabeth Albrycht, a senior lecturer in marketing and communications at the Paris School of Business, responded, “Right now the knowledge of the 20th century is essentially barred from use online, which is scandalous. Revisions in IP law must occur, and if they don’t, people will essentially take this into their own hands and share at will.”

A self-employed consultant focusing on Internet policy and technology and longtime IETF leader responded, “We are headed into a really nasty period for accessibility of digital materials more than a few years old. People’s current prevailing optimism on those subjects is likely to turn out to be part of the problem.”

Tim Bray, an active participant in the Internet Engineering Task Force and technology industry veteran, wrote, “The major obstacles to progress at this moment are the patent trolls, the intellectual-property behemoth copyright-abusers, and the customer-abusive telephone-company leviathans.”

A networking engineer employed by a large cable television company, wrote, “Intellectual property rights need to be overhauled by a generation that understands the Internet—one that grew up using it. The focus needs to be on attribution of the original artist so that credit (and money, where applicable) flows where credit is due, while still allowing for fair use. The large content providers (TV, movie production houses, music production) are still fighting to preserve their monopoly on content creation, distribution, and profit. That model is going to break, it’s just a question of when, and how much DRM and wrong-headed anti-piracy legislation will have to be broken first.”

Clifford Lynch, executive director for the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) and adjunct professor at the University of California-Berkeley, responded, “The mixture of horrible copyright laws, seemingly endless copyright term extension, and the continuing rise of monitoring information consumption in great detail both by states and commercial entities will all continue to be problems that will complicate and discourage the use and sharing of content online. Over the next decade we will see consumers really engaging with issues about long-term ‘ownership’ of valuable and extensive collections of content (music, e-books, etc.) that they think that they have acquired. Imagine if Amazon just decided to discontinue the Kindle without a migration path for content. A final nasty development is the creation of new national censorship firewalls (such as has happened in the UK recently).”

An anonymous respondent observed, “If governments are successful in their attempts to control the Internet then it will be more locked down and harder to share content. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the current incarnation of US and other government’s attempts to exert state control and ensure pre-eminence of corporations over and above individuals.”

The vice president of research and consumer media for a research and analysis firm responded, “It will get worse. Every indication is that corporations and government are bent on increasing IP rights and locking them down with DRM and legal infrastructure. Citizens are insufficiently motivated to secure fair use and other rights. Open- source, Creative Commons, and other forms of IP will flourish at the margins.”

Commercial pressures subtheme 3: Governments and corporations focus mostly on near-term gains, missing opportunities to advance the best digital future

A U.S.-based policy advisor predicted, “American information industries along with their lackeys in the copyright office and Congress will effectively throttle the potential of the Internet. Instead of thinking of new ways of encouraging innovation, they will lock into stone the pre-existing business models. Content distribution should be almost costless, but content owners will have successfully implemented legal and technical schemes that make access to and sharing of information impossible without paying them first. They will have been able to impose on a world of electrons the same kind of controls that they had when distributing content in the physical world of atoms. An even bigger challenge: We should have high-speed and ubiquitous WiFi Internet at low cost across the country. But in reality, the ability of major telecommunication companies to throttle Internet deployment will mean that the US remains an Internet backwater. And I suspect that these companies may extend their control (and limitations) overseas.”

Mikey O’Connor, an elected representative to the GNSO Council at ICANN, wrote, “Failures of policy and leadership are already undermining the ability to retain a single, open, accessible Internet. It is almost impossible to imagine a 2025 scenario where there is the same low-level blocking of content or access that there is today. There is simply no contest between the forces of ‘open’ and the forces that will implement selective blocking. Among the forces, governments—0f course—for all the usual reasons. The proponents for ‘open’ in Internet governance fora have had their legs cut out from under them by the recent Snowden revelations. Expect considerable movement on this front. Corporations, ISPs, and network operators will get a taste for blocking if there is a widespread failure caused by name-collisions as new gTLDs roll out. If this scenario plays out, the capability to selectively block content will be much more widespread—and it will be used. Individuals will be the victims. Fewer and fewer tools will be available for open, unrestricted, private conversation with anybody in the world as the forces of surveillance get a handle on things.”

David Orban, the CEO of Dotsub, commented, “Entrenched interests, especially in the financial sector, are going to keep lobbying globally for protective legislation which will slow down the deployment of innovative solutions for allocating resources based on skill, and demonstrated capability to execute and sustain initiative.

Celia Pearce, an associate professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology, wrote, “The challenges or hindrances will be corporate and government control, and—more important—the growing merger of the two. At this point it’s very clear that corporations own the US government. As long as this persists we are going to have a problem. We have less and less regulation to protect the people, and more and more laws that favor corporations. It’s ironic that the government is poking around in our business with NSA spying and such, allegedly to ‘protect’ us while at the same time, completely failing to protect us from the biggest domestic threat to democracy, the overthrow of the government by big corporations. To me this is the biggest threat to freedom in America in general, and on the Internet in particular.”

John Mitchell, a self-employed lawyer who focuses on antitrust, copyright, trade associations, and free speech, responded, “The key is to protect ‘the Internet’ as a neutral means of communication and prevent its corporate and governmental capture and balkanization into a number of interconnected intranets. Every person on the planet should be free to communicate with every other person on the planet at any time, from/to anywhere, about anything.”

There are those who foresee changes that will solve many of the problems presented by today’s economic concerns.

The chief counsel for a major foundation wrote, “Although corporate lobbyists, including those employed by government, are currently intent on reducing access to knowledge and information through intellectual property laws and trade agreements, by 2025 the struggle will be over. The business models of the content intermediary incumbents will be extinct. The intermediaries will either have developed new business models not reliant on suing their own customers or they will have disappeared. No educated person younger than 30 today accepts the claims made by content intermediaries as justification for laws to prop up their business model. There will be a struggle in the period between today and 2025. Those countries in which the content intermediaries are able to retain their capture of the state longest will be abandoned by innovators. Free and open source software that enables people to create and run their own distributed hoc networks, email, and message servers, and encryption without anything more than simple connectivity will enable people to realize the fullest potential of the Internet.”

Threat theme 4) Efforts to fix the TMI (too much information) problem might over-compensate and actually thwart content sharing.

A commonly expressed complaint about the digital age is that an ever-growing sea of information forces us into the automated “personalization” of information-seeking. Among the complaints: algorithms often categorize people the wrong way and do not suit their needs; they do not change as people change; search algorithms are being written mostly by corporations with financial interests that could sway the ways in which they are being written; search algorithms can be gamed by certain outside interests to sway searches to their advantage; algorithms remove the blessings of serendipity in knowledge finding; and algorithms individualize what people see so they no longer have a commonly felt experience when they seek something, thus creating a sort of loss of “universal knowledge.”

A portion of survey participants expressed concerns over seeking and finding knowledge in and among the expansive amounts of it available online.

Rajnesh Singh, regional director in the Asia-Pacific region for the Internet Society, wrote, “The amount of content generated every day is mind-boggling and will continue to increase exponentially as more come online or able to interact better online using tools and applications. The first issue is how do we navigate this content? Even search engines today are struggling to identify relevant content (leaving aside for the moment the fact that search results can also be ‘gamed’ to some extent). There is some great content out there, but finding it can be painful (or impossible) if you don’t know where to look and as more content appears, this issue will also impact the possible monetization opportunities of content creators.”

Michael Starks, an information science professional, wrote, “If society continues to value devices and connectivity (containers and plumbing) over content, the growth in access to more content will do little to improve the lives of individuals or societies. It will continue to become easier for people around the world to exchange ever greater amounts of content. Bandwidth, cloud storage, and even storage on personal devices will all continue to grow and become less expensive—in some countries faster than in others, but the overall trend will apply everywhere. The challenge will be in separating the wheat from the chaff. Will people who can create, edit, judge, find and curate content for others become valued for those skills? If so—and if that value is reflected in the salaries those people receive—then highly networked populations will have greater access to better content as well as more content.”

The Internet is already reshaping how people retain knowledge–memory is not being used like it once was to retain facts. The power of the Internet to remember is growing in importance so the ability to keep the Internet honest about the past and the present will require the establishment of trusted institutions to make sure that certain sources of information are kept at the highest level of authoritative and academic rigor. It may also mean that regional repositories of original books and documents are always available to confirm or support primary research.Lillie Coney, a legislative director specializing in technology policy in the U.S. House of Representatives

Pamela Rutledge, PhD and director of the Media Psychology Research Center, responded, “The biggest threats are governments’ attempts to regulate in response to technophobia and lack of recognition by government and society that media literacy and digital citizenship—the ability to access, search and evaluate information, produce and distribute content, understand ethical and interpersonal boundaries in a digital environment—is key to using the Internet’s capabilities, not a computer in the classroom. As the physical digital divide shrinks due to expanding access and mobile devices, the functional digital divide grows. The skills of media literacy and digital citizenship will be increasingly essential to realize the potential of the Internet and participate in the social, educational, economic, and political benefits of society. We have great potential and freedom because of the Internet, but only if we also accept the responsibility of teaching people the skills they need to use it well.”

Ed Lyell, a college professor of business and economics and early Internet policy consultant dating back to ARPANET, responded, “The biggest challenge to more positive Internet use is in creating better intellectual and questioning skills starting in school and beyond. Lazy people can opt to just entertain themselves and permit others to dumb them down and exploit them. We need a far more robust formal education system at all levels. Yet in America our schools more often hinder new ways of learning rather than utilizing and expanding them.”

Cathy Davidson, a co-director of the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge at Duke University, now at City University of New York, and co-founder and principal administrator of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, wrote, “We have to transform education to help people see what the Internet is and does—Kindergarten to lifelong. It’s happened so fast its invisible. If it is invisible, we cannot take full advantage of its full potential. We need a massive campaign to make people aware that their devices are opportunities and responsibilities.”

Stephen Abram, a self-employed consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Inc., wrote, “The real challenge is building an information-fluent (not merely literate) population. This fluency divide is already showing in the manipulation of truth and facts as evidenced by Fox News and their cohort. Critical thinking needs to be more widely spread as the gatekeepers no longer control access and offer interpretation for their own reasons.”

  1. NETmundial was an April 2014 gathering of global representatives from civil society, businesses, governments, and the technology sector for discussions about the future of Internet governance organized by the government of Brazil.
  2. A compilation of some of the most important thinking and analysis in favor of Net neutrality has been collected here by Prof. Tim Wu of Columbia University (the person who coined the term): http://www.timwu.org/network_neutrality.html