Over the past few decades, the internet has evolved and grown exponentially, being shaped and controlled by the tech giants who wield its power. The internet today informs, educates and entertains in high definition, there is quite literally information about almost everything and most of it is presumed free. The internet is free, but first, you must pay. That is generally the business model that is followed by many web-based tech companies.
What this means is, the services provided by tech companies is perceived as free but in actuality is paid for with user’s private information. The user’s location, age, gender, device, IP address and even the search history is all collected for algorithmic targeted advertising, this is the primary source of revenue for many of the tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook and Google.
The major tech companies have generally controlled the flow of information available on the internet. They also control which information is viewed as valuable, and entrenched themselves among their users to a point where Google and Facebook are seen as the internet itself in many parts of the world. Many people are unaware that Amazon’s web services host the websites that form the backbone of the internet, meaning they can decide which websites or information stays active online.
The power that they wield has disrupted various different industries and sectors such as advertising, media, retail and governments. To the point where countries like Australia have announced new laws that will require big tech companies to pay media publishers’ royalty fees for their use of media content. Last week Google signed a landmark deal with French publishers over the very same issue, tech companies have come under a lot of regulatory scrutinies due to their monopolization of the internet.
A new movement is now growing, aiming to undo their monopoly and give the power to the users. The movement is calling for a decentralized web, creating a community-driven peer to peer protocol which will secure user privacy and make the internet censorship-resistant. The internet right now is structured in a way where user data is hoarded away on centralized servers, though this model is very efficient, the disadvantage is it undemocratically concentrates the power of free speech into the hands of the few.
A decentralized community-based internet will create a more fair system as well as a free web, a decentralized web works to cut out the middlemen who hoard data and have control over the flow of information on the internet. The websites of a decentralized internet will be hosted on a pair to pair framework, the information will be stored and distributed around the world using laptops, phones, computers and other smart devices.
The decentralizing of the internet is viewed by some as the best option at securing private information, spreading the power that the tech companies wield to the masses of users and alleviating fears of censorship. A number of new applications have already formed up from this idea of a decentralized internet, like the Brave browser which is a decentralized alternative to Google search engine and Odysee which aims to be the decentralized version of YouTube.