Mozilla is an organization known for its defense of an internet in which everything is open and in which it maintains that original spirit with which the network of networks was born. Things have changed in recent years, and there are several threats that have made the health of the internet at risk.
That is what has made Mozilla launch the so-called Internet Health Report, an initiative that investigates five themes: decentralization, digital inclusion, open innovation, privacy and security, and web literacy. The findings of the report are compelling, and we have talked about them with Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation.
Many challenges to overcome for healing
As the report’s findings indicate, there are major challenges that need to be overcome in order to try to get the internet on the right track. For example: despite the great advances in Internet adoption, 58% of the world’s population cannot afford an Internet connection.
Another problem affecting the Internet is the massive use of English, which has become the “native” language of the network: 52% of the websites are in English, although only 25% of the global population understands this language.
This report also discusses how obsolete copyright laws in Europe make it possible to share self-made images of certain public places, such as the Eiffel Tower, that are technically illegal. These contrasts with the fact that Creative Commons licenses estimate that there are 1 billion online works with CC license, which encourages the reuse of texts, images and music.
The coverage areas of this first version of the report are very varied and cover topics related to innovation or privacy and security. In the latter, for example, members of the Mozilla Foundation tell us how to make the web safer with technology increasingly available to users: encryption through services such as Let’s Encrypt.
The Age of Ethical Internet Companies
Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation – which by the way, recently changed its branding – explained in an entry in the official blog of this organization the principles and objectives of this initiative, but also we could have a telephone conversation with him Ask about the risks that threaten the internet.
We mentioned for example the current situation in which various technology giants strive to lock us in their ecosystems of both hardware and software products. What can we do to solve it?
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For Mr. Surman “we have a good example in the email”, a standard system that we can access paying for a premium service, using free services like Gmail or even setting up a server of our own. In each of these alternatives, you have to value things like the cost in time, money or maintenance to decide, but the good thing is that there are alternatives.
That model should be extended to many other areas of the internet, and here Mr. Surman talked about how important it is to “make good decisions: to choose good social networks, for example, although difficult in some segments for the centralization of those services”.
Another potential way for all to improve is that “companies offer alternative products, both in search and social networks,” commented Mr. Surman, who had an ambition: that we change to an “era of Ethical internet companies.”
The third of the solutions did not come from us, but from the regulatory and judicial agencies. For this director of Mozilla we need a much less “soft” regulation, one that has strong antitrust laws and that protects the rights and freedoms of users in a more forceful.
We also talked about the failure of Firefox OS and what that meant for Mozilla. Mr. Surman commented that this failure “shows how difficult it is to try to enter these environments and be competitive”. For him, the smartphone segment is a closed market with only two players, and it is too difficult to enter, which has made Mozilla want to focus on other ways to reach users like the Internet of Things or intelligence Artificial, but always with the same principle: “products and ethical solutions”.
In the mobility segment there is also a problem with the relevance of native applications versus the use of web applications based for example on HT ML5.
For Mr. Surman, “there is certainly a technical debate” about the superiority of one type of application over others, but he emphasized that “the debate is actually the distribution” : who controls how the software is distributed is who dictates how it should Programmed. That’s where Google and Apple have an obvious advantage.
Finally, we ask Mr. Surman about the dangers that affect the internet in the convulsive political landscape that has been given in the United States with Trump as the country’s new president. Although this director did not want to comment directly on Trump, he said that “we need an internet that welcomes its users, with laws that protect them, and a plan that protects us from efforts to erode the encryption of Communications or net neutrality.”