LAS VEGAS—Far from being a place of freedom, innovation and information, the Internet is dying, Stanford University’s Jennifer Granick told a packed house at the Black Hat computer security conference Wednesday.
“It’s not the level playing field that we once thought it would be,” she said.
A long-time thinker and activist on computer crime and security, electronic surveillance and consumer privacy, Granick has also defended several well-known hackers against what she feels was overzealous government prosecution.
She painted a picture for the audience of what the Internet could look like if the Net continues on its current path.
While most people aren’t inclined to take a piece of software code and disassemble it, making that illegal means as a society we’re unable to deeply understand the software that today is “deciding whether you get a home loan, whether your get a job, where your car goes,” Granick said.
For example, Europe last year declared a Right to Be Forgotten. It allows someone who feels they have been harmed by material posted online, even if it is true, to petition and have it removed from search engine results.
France is now pushing to make that extraterritorial, so that the material would not just be removed from search results in France but globally.
If one country can impose its idea of what’s appropriate for online to the rest of the world, all can. “It’s a race to the bottom,” she said.
To overcome this, hackers, programmers and those building Internet systems need to make them decentralized, add in encryption to make it harder for governments to snoop on citizens and fight against laws that muzzle free speech.