Sneak Preview

of the 2019 Internet Health Report

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Because of your donations and support, on April 24 Mozilla will publish its 2019 Internet Health Report — our third-annual examination of the internet, its impact on society, and how it influences billions of lives. It will paint a vivid picture of online life today: an internet that’s not only embedded in our personal, political, and economic lives, but also making personal, political, and economic decisions about us and for us.

The report covers numerous issues like the threat of deepfakes, the potential of user-owned social media platforms, pornography literacy initiatives, investment in undersea cables, the dangers of sharing DNA results online, and more.

Below is a sneak peak at some of the key issues it covers, questions it explores, and data it highlights.

Decentralization

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Who controls the Internet?

The Report explores how the centralization of the tech industry has given a handful of companies — like Google, Amazon, and Tencent — massive control over our online lives. Now, as smart cities become the status quo, these tech giants have the potential to influence even more aspects of our lives. But many cities around the world are building coalitions that emphasize human rights, and not just commercial interests, in digital platforms. And there’s a growing will to regulate big tech and seek decentralized alternatives.

Some key questions the Report examines

  • What if Facebook were owned by its users?
  • Why do so few countries protect net neutrality?

Fact highlight

  • Of the world’s eight largest tech companies, three rely on advertising as their primary source of income: Baidu, Facebook, and Google.
    Source: Annual reports, Yahoo Finance

Digital Inclusion

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Who is welcome online?

The Report looks at how the internet is becoming a fundamental utility to communicate, find jobs, and more. But major access inequities continue to exist across geography, gender, class, and other lines. For example: The world’s slowest internet is also the least affordable. And certain demographics — like female journalists and LGBT gamers — face regular harassment. But there are bright spots, too: Codes of conduct are becoming the norm in open source communities. And organizations like the Algorithmic Justice League are fighting bias in emerging technology.

Some key questions the Report examines

  • Why do too many countries get digital ID wrong?
  • What is technology's inhumane underbelly?

Fact Highlight

  • In the Global South, internet users are paying more money for less access. Africa has the worst affordability and also the slowest internet, while Europe’s internet is the fastest and most affordable in the world.
    Source: The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI)

Openness

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Can everyone build and innovate?

The Report explores how artificial intelligence is automating life-altering decisions, making smarter cities, and curating the media we consume. This transformational change presents both ethical crises and opportunities, many of them directly related to openness. Opaque and proprietary data sets teach AI to detect cancer, or self-driving cars to avoid pedestrians. Since these data sets are closed, we can’t see potential bias — which means some people might get poorer cancer treatment, or roads will be filled with cars that are better at recognizing and avoiding light-skinned bodies.

Some key questions the Report examines

  • Deep fakes are here. Now what?
  • How is social media being taxed around the world?

Fact Highlight

  • Internet shutdowns are on the rise. In 2018, there were 188 shutdowns around the world.
    Source: Access Now

Privacy & Security

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Is it safe?

The Report examines how the lack of privacy has always been a critical online issue. Companies use our every click and search to profile and target us. At best, this means manipulative ads. At worst, it can perpetuate bias and spread disinformation. There are novel initiatives to block or reform digital ads, but it’s a long road — the internet's major platforms are built on "surveillance capitalism."

Some key questions the Report examines:

  • What is ransomware costing us?
  • What are the risks of taking a DNA test?

Fact Highlight

  • A study of nearly 1 million free Android apps revealed that most apps transfer data to major internet companies through “data trackers.” Companies include Alphabet, Facebook, Twitter, Verizon, Microsoft, and Amazon.
    Source: Oxford University

Web Literacy

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What are the skills to meaningfully engage online?

The Report looks at how mastering the web is far more complicated than learning HTML and CSS. As a result, current technology — like smart speakers — work like black boxes, with most users unaware of how they function and if they can be modified. But not everyone is at a loss: Communities are building open-source voice assistants, using VR to raise awareness about mass surveillance, and utilizing open data to investigate war crimes. In many ways, the internet’s dream as an open playing field is still very much alive.

Some key questions the Report examines

  • Who babysits your children’s data?
  • Is the internet harming democracy?

Fact Highlight

  • 80% of the worldwide youth population are online, and so concerns about the effects of pornography on adolescents have now become part of mainstream conversation.
    Source: ITU News

We hope you enjoyed the preview! Please be sure to visit internethealthreport.org on April 24 to read the full report.

This is part of a broader movement for a healthy internet. See more.