In the contemporary world of virtual likes and shares, it would not be an exaggeration to appropriate ‘Internet’ within the hitherto rigid brackets of foundational necessities and to crown the same as the most visible factor that binds and affects us all equally. Withstanding the position that it has acquired within human life today, it does become a matter of concern for the masses to analyze the past, present, and perceivable future of the internet.
Billions of users were affected globally when applications like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram stood inaccessible for six hours in what is being dubbed as the biggest outage in internet history. Approximately 3.5 billion users of Facebook and allied social media applications worldwide could not communicate with friends and family and it was this technical vacuum that led to the introspection and initiation of a debate between centralization and decentralization of the internet, as to what stands as the most viable option today and a foreseeable tomorrow, given their respective pros and cons.
In utter simple words, over the years the internet has remained fairly centralized wherein a milder version of monopoly has been functioning very smoothly, with near to no potential competitors in the market and the set of organizations and service providers remains which dominate the global market remains very small. With negligible competition, consumers fall out of choice and are forced into taking up the options available, resulting in limited innovation and improvement.
Whereas in a more decentralized setup it is nearly a win-win situation for both producers and consumers. Researchers and thinkers have been debating upon the need of scrutinizing the existing centralized virtual world which poses a threat mainly to the consumers. This not only locks them within a boundary devoid of any alternative but also creates hindrances in the transmission of information and data around the globe, causing a halt for the concerned sector.
While the centralized internet system explicitly compels the users to share their personal information while using their services but on the other hand decentralized applications operate primarily on a decentralized network, namely EOS blockchain. These applications are essentially run by a community of operators who are rewarded with tokens for providing their processing power. The data, provided by the user to use these applications, gets stored in an encrypted form, and thus there are negligible chances of personal data loss. The potential roadmap of decoding the encrypted information resides only on private devices.
Withstanding the aforementioned global outage, it becomes much more reasonable as to why there is a need of dismantling the monopoly of ‘certain’ companies and instilling healthy competition within the market because the world certainly doesn’t want to witness such a vacuum again, with nearly no alternatives to seek refuge under. This has largely become a matter of concern for several countries, the G8 countries more essentially who are considering the ways to tackle the monopolistic operation of these handful companies, with the US and EU in the forefront.
Concerning developing a completely decentralized internet system, challenges are lesser but not absent at all. With the division of the said sector into multiple units and limbs, there are apprehensions of data latency that might occur. A collective output, fairly better than the previously consolidated one is also something that the thinkers are not very confident about. The existing rhetoric of breaking up these ruling companies and introducing the element of competition in the data world does appear as viable steps into instilling a lesser monopolistic internet regime, the chances are still ambiguous.
The EU-sponsored Digital Markets Act has emerged with a rather novel view which talks about installing certain companies as the watchdogs within the digital data sector to ensure proper scrutiny and accountability. These include compulsions of data sharing and co-operation with the other competing services.
As of today, the centralized internet and the world web continue to dominate the digital world and shall continue to do so unless people educate themselves to be able to weigh the implications that accompany the centralized internet system and the danger it poses to individual data. The answer will become clearer when one goes back to the day when the entire world seemed to have stopped just because ‘one’ brand lost control.