In a newly released study, Pew researchers canvassed more than 1,400 experts about near-term threats to the world wide web.
While mostly optimistic, some experts “express[ed] wide levels of concern that this yearning for an open Internet will be challenged by trends that could sharply disrupt the way the Internet works.”
The study is not a representative, randomized survey, but rather a “canvassing,” whose findings emerge from an “opt in” invitation to thousands of experts.
Pew asked these experts to answer “yes” or “no” to the question: “by 2025 will there be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online compared with the way globally networked people can operate online today?” The experts then had an opportunity to elaborate on their response.
Encouragingly, Pew reports that 65 percent of the experts responded “no,” there would not be significant changes for the worst, while only 35 percent said there would be. However, a number of the optimistic responders clarified that their answer was more of hope than a prediction.
Government and corporate surveillance, attempts by nation-states to filter content, flawed efforts to fix the “too much information” problem and commercial pressures to change the architecture of the Internet to restrict the free flow of information topped the list of predictions for near future threats to the web.
Ominously, with the FCC geared to potentially undermine net neutrality in the United States, that last concern is already on its way to becoming a reality.