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The Internet Is Sick


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Part of the Internet backbone.

The Mozilla Foundation, in a new health report on the Internet, cites phenomena such as the dominance of companies like Google and the 56 times governments shut down the Internet in 2016 as evidence that the openness and neutrality that made the Internet catch on are being subverted.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Mozilla Foundation's new Internet Health Report identifies obstacles that undermine entrepreneurship and democracy online.

The report was drawn from existing data on how people, companies, and governments are using the Internet.

Mozilla cites the dominance of large Internet companies and government censorship as evidence the Internet's accessibility and neutrality are being subverted. In 2016, governments around the world shut down online access 56 times, up from 15 shutdowns in 2015.

Mozilla Foundation executive director Mark Surman describes mobile app stores and giant social networks as gatekeepers preventing competition and innovation. However, Ellery Biddle, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, argues those gatekeepers have enabled more people to get online by offering accessible and safe platforms. "I agree with many of the concerns about the walled gardens of Facebook and the like, but it's more complicated than that," Biddle says.

For future annual updates, the Mozilla Foundation plans to collect data about who benefits from online advertising and compare the services offered by different Internet providers around the world.

From Technology Review
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