Fake news, the consolidation of power, and degradation of privacy are the three biggest challenges facing the internet today, according to a new report from Mozilla.
Released Tuesday, the inaugural Internet Health Report, which Mozilla describes as a “survey of the internet’s vital signs,” notes that the web is getting more affordable, accessible, and encrypted—three healthy developments. On a not-so-positive note, however, censorship, online harassment, and the internet’s CO2 footprint are all on the rise.
On top of that, US internet giants Facebook, Google, and Amazon—and their Chinese counterparts like Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba—continue to grow and become more “intertwined not only with our daily lives, but with all aspects of the global economy, civic discourse, and democrary itself.”
“Through monopolistic business practices that are specific to the digital age, they undermine privacy, openness and competition on the web,” the report states.
Meanwhile, fake news—cited as another primary threat of the internet’s health—”is reaching epidemic proportions worldwide,” partly because “the online advertising economy that underlines much of today’s internet is terribly broken,” Mozilla writes. And if you think you’re immune to fake news, think again: the report says that “everyone is susceptible” to being duped by it.
Finally, the report’s authors say that beefing up customer privacy and securing the internet of things (IoT) must become top priorities, especially given that 30 billion connected devices are expected to come online by 2020.
“They key problem is that IoT is growing faster and bigger than we could have imagined,” Mozilla writes. “Some of the risks posed are personal (like being embarrassed or perhaps being injured by a hacked car) while other risks are at the system or environmental level (like hospitals or the electric grid being taken down). Either way, it’s going to be costly to fix when things go wrong.”
For more, check out PCMag EIC Dan Costa’s interview with Mozilla’s Executive Director Mark Surman in the video above.
The release of this report comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before Congress today about the Cambridge Analytica data leak, a scandal that highlights some of the major issues facing the web today.