Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Bleak Future of the Internet?

Many of us have become dependent on the Internet for personal and business communication. So it is a matter of some concern to see how the Internet - especially email - is filling up with rubbish.

Innocent newsletters are getting caught in email filters, and newsletter senders are finding this increasingly frustrating.  David Sprott of CBDI devoted his July 10th 2003 newsletter to this topic, and Bruce Schneier (CryptoGram) picked up the topic again in his newsletter of July 15th 2003.

Filters may be locally effective - and this encourages some complacency. But the filters are generally ineffective, and generate significant levels of false positives.  Furthermore, the existence of filters simply encourages the producers of rubbish to increase their production volumes, at little cost to themselves, in order to maintain the desired levels of dissemination. They are therefore counterproductive for the Internet as a whole.

While many individuals and small businesses have become dependent on the internet, there are growing numbers of old-economy firms where the nuisance and risks of connection to the internet may be perceived to outweigh the advantages. It it may be hard to continue to justify open access, and many firms may be tempted to disconnect themselves from the internet altogether.

Even in the largest firms, there will always be individuals and groups who want to remain connected to the internet for various reasons - including marketing and R&D groups. But the corporate interest may prevail - and it may be a constant effort to keep the lines of communication open.

This scenario should be extremely worrying for decent small firms - as well as large media empires  - whose business depends on proper use of the internet. We are currently talking to a number of media and technology firms, to prepare contingency plans against this scenario.

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