Seeing how various governments are attempting to lock down their citizens' data, it's no wonder the Internet of today is turning into the "splinternet" of tomorrow. Instead of a connected, global Internet, we'll be left with a splintered variety of hyper-local miniature Internets.
It's a story that shows just how dismal the future of the Internet could be.
Requiring Internet services to store data in each user's home country will create huge barriers for providing globally accessible services.
This is the same problem that would plague decentralized mesh networking, which is something that's been on my mind lately.
I have a solid ISP, but I absolutely despise having to pay a corporate provider to access the Internet. Talk of net neutrality raises the question of ISPs not being impartial in routing traffic. Will they limit bandwidth available to sites that stream media? Will they limit bandwidth available to sites critical of their business practices? Will they block encrypted, anonymous traffic because they can't determine where it's going or for what end?
I've toyed with the idea of working on alternatives to the last-mile problem before. Unfortunately, just about every potential solution requires either:
- Some sort of corporate network provider
- Government (local or otherwise) participation in building/maintaining a network
- Alternative means of communication that suffer from high-latency
Considering the point of decentralizing would be to remove the middle-man, the first two options are non-starters. Considering the nature of the Internet and the media we exchange upon it, option three is a major step backwards in functionality.
That said, it might also be exactly the thing we need to unite a potential "splinternet" created through faulty government intervention in and misguided regulation of the existing Internet we all know and love.
We cannot allow policymakers to play engineers and break the Internet. Unfortunately, many leaders are proposing to do just that.[ref]Emma Llanso[/ref]
If policymakers can't be stopped from attempting to act in their constituents' "best interest," perhaps we should band together to build a freer alternative that's less easy for policymakers to ruin.