Freedom Versus Fear
September 4, 2015
The Ashley Madison data breach has understandably been getting a lot of press, but what does it portend for the future of the Internet? Computerworld’s Tech Decoder predicts far-reaching consequences in, “Here’s Why the Dark Web Just Got a Lot Darker.” Security experts predict a boom in phishing scams connected to this data breach, as well as copycat hackers poised to attack other (more legit) companies.
Reporter John Brandon suspects such activity will lead to the government stepping in to create two separate Internet channels: one “wild and unprotected” side and a “commercial” side, perhaps sponsored by big-name communications companies, that comes with an expectation of privacy. Great, one might think, we won’t have to worry if we’re not up to anything shady! But there’s more to it. Brandon explains:
“The problem is that I’m a big proponent of entrepreneurship. I won’t comment on whether I think Ashley Madison is a legitimate business. … However, I do want to defend the rights of some random dude in Omaha who wants to sell smartphone cables. He won’t have a chance to compete on the ‘commercial’ side of the Internet, so he’ll probably have to create a site on the unprotected second-tier channel, the one that is ‘free and open’ for everyone. Good luck with that.
“Is it fair? Is it even (shudder) moral? The commercial side will likely be well funded, fast, reliable, government-sanctioned, and possibly heavily taxed. The free side will be like drinking water at the local cesspool. In the end, the free and open Internet is that way for a reason. It’s not so you can cheat on your wife. Frankly, people will do that with or without the Internet. The ‘free and open’ bit is intended to foster ideas. It’s meant to level the playing field. It’s meant to help that one guy in Omaha.”
Yes, security is important, but so is opportunity. Can our society strike a balance, or will fear reign? Stay tuned.
Cynthia Murrell, September 4, 2015