This report features global insights and perspectives across five issues: Privacy and security, Openness, Digital inclusion, Web literacy and Decentralization. We also cast a spotlight on three of the biggest Internet health issues of the past year: Securing the Internet of Things, Understanding ‘Fake News’, and Too Big Tech? These deep dives show how a usually narrow topic can offer a view of the big picture.
In Too big tech? we explore how the dominant companies of the United States and China create unhealthy conditions for struggling innovators and smaller populations trying to break into the market – and for a scientist trying to untangle himself from Google. The consolidation of power in global tech is not only a business story, it raises questions from the geopolitical to the personal. What do we want the Internet to be?
With Understanding ‘fake news’ we break away from the narrative of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election and explore why misinformation in social media has become a topic of concern to the world. Hint: the online advertising economy is broken and easily bent to fraud and abuse. Beyond propagandists, we consider teens who make easy money on digital ads, and people who share incendiary stories because they don’t know better yet.
Finally, cybersecurity is often portrayed as a ‘hacker’ problem – but it’s also deeply intertwined with the health of the Internet ecosystem as a whole. Up to 30 billion devices will come online by 2020, including insecure webcams, baby monitors, and other devices that can be enslaved and collectively wielded as a weapon. Securing the Internet of Things will be a challenge of correcting poor software, hardware and governance practices that make the Internet fragile.