Pew study: Internet affected by government intrusion, corporate interests

The information superhighway may have been a place for open expression and exchange of ideas. However, spying by governments and infringing corporate interests are among the top threats that are changing how the Internet is viewed by the public, the Pew Research Center concluded after surveying 1,400 Internet experts.

The ‘new Internet’ is more distrusted by citizens, who are increasingly interested in protecting their privacy despite pushing for net neutrality. The privacy concerns could “limit the sharing of information and collaborative efforts online,” according to eWEEK.

There is some optimism in the Pew report as well. More than two-thirds of the experts said they don’t anticipate that over the next decade online access and interaction will be hindered more than it is today – the caveat being they expressed “hope” this would prove to be true.

The report took into account actions from nations including Egypt, Syria, Pakistan and Turkey, which all have cracked down on the Internet to limit political and other free speech under the guise of national security. Experts noted these steps were understandable.

Another trend across the Internet – productization – refers to turning Internet connections into commercial opportunities for firms selling products or services. This trend, combined with net neutrality, also encompasses concerns over copyright and patent protection, according to the Pew report.

Yet another major issue is the attempt by citizens and businesses to control information about them available online. The concern over sensitive and damaging information that lingers online and damages reputations could give way to “barriers to information sharing,” according to Pew survey respondents.