opinion | GAFAM: another internet is possible

The past year has brought further evidence of the excessive power of digital giants in today’s Internet. The GAFAMs (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) together account for nearly 25% of the S&P 500 . But they don’t just grow indefinitely. By becoming neuralgic and inevitable nodes, these companies have made the internet less secure, less stable and less useful to society.

The criticisms against of their monopolistic positions are more vivid than ever . Well Named. They have only recently caught the attention of international policy makers, although for years it has been a central demand of the so-called Web3. Web3 is the counter-model of our current digital infrastructure (Web 2.0), which relies heavily on centralized platforms that make users dependent on a handful of gate-keepers.

Too much data to a small number of actors

The design of Web 2.0 as we know it today is far from optimal. It forces us to trust regulators, themselves imperfect and most often acting ex post. The recent outages of major platforms and the numerous database hacks we witness every year also show very clearly that the problem is serious and deep.

In addition, through this centralization, our privacy is threatened and algorithms favoring extreme opinions to generate views are imposed in electoral campaigns all over the planet. Misinformation is everywhere. At last, history has shown that large monopolies distort competition and innovation suffers. We need to critically assess our current system, ask ourselves what risks we face and develop an alternative solution for our current and future needs.

In the face of these challenges, it is clear that we have reached a point where too much data, and therefore power, rests in the hands of a small number of online actors. Web3 represents a unique opportunity to regain sovereignty over our personal data. The principle is very simple: a decentralized online ecosystem, built by users, for users.

Decentralized ecosystem

It’s basically adding to the existing Internet a set of features that are currently lacking. Blockchain technology can be used to build a society based on openness, accessibility and authenticity. In a decentralized ecosystem, users will have strong and verifiable guarantees about the information they receive, the information they give and the information they receive in return.

Barriers to entry will thus be drastically reduced, empowering users to act in their interests. And that’s not all: while until now the various blockchains existed in isolation, a lot of effort is currently being made to promote their interoperability, a prerequisite for the era of Web3.

Let’s rebuild an internet that thrives beyond a few powerful platforms, that helps people thrive in safety, that helps them control their own contributions and data, and that empowers innovators to develop solutions that meet the needs of people rather than feeding data-hungry monopolies. An internet that belongs to no one, but allows everyone to participate. The challenge is ambitious, but we have to try.

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opinion | GAFAM: another internet is possible

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