Threats To Online Freedom, Open Access, Sharing Content Among Fears For Internet's Future

Protecting online freedoms with the same forethought as our nation's forefathers may become more difficult in the coming years. Nations with political control that can lead to blocking and filtering of online information, diminishing trust and the likely increase in future online surveillance, and threats to the open structure of life online are among the major concerns of Internet users today, per a Pew Research Internet Project "canvassing" released Thursday.

Thirty-five percent of those who are participating in the canvassing expect significant changes for the worse by 2025 involving the ways that people get and share content online compared with the way globally networked people can operate online today. The remainder said no. Some write-in answers elaborated on a hope, rather than responding with a definitive "no."

Many respondents also believe that billions more people within the next 11 years will gain access to the Internet through mobile technology and other efforts aimed at connecting more people around the world. The responses also clearly define the ability to share the value of content and value vs. track and verify.

The study, titled Net Threats -- released one day prior to Independence Day in the United States -- reveals growing concern that some major benefits that have made this nation great may be eliminated. In fact, the majority of respondents to the 2014 Future of the Internet study "hope that by 2025 there will not be significant changes for the worse and hindrances to the ways in which people get and share content online today." Many believe that technology innovation will continue to provide new opportunities for people to connect.

The findings come from a Pew Research opt-in invitation to thousands of experts identified by researching. These technologists have made insightful predictions to previous queries about the future of the Internet. More than 1,400 people responded yes or no to several questions, with write-ins an option.

Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, wrote: "The biggest problem will be education. People will need to acquire various cognitive skills to use the Internet to its fullest potential."

"American Flag" photo from Shutterstock.

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