Mozilla's Annual Checkup On the Web
Written by Sue Gee   
Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Since 2017 the Mozilla Foundation has published an annual look at what is happening on the internet today, and how it is impacting us for good or bad. The 2019 Internet Health Report is now available as a website and there's a Short Version (pdf) for reading offline. 

Rather than being a collection of facts and figures, the publication takes a wide ranging look at five core issues to discover what is key to maintaining a healthy internet. These issues are: privacy and security, openness, digital inclusion, web literacy, and decentralization.

In the Readme the latest report, Mozilla.states:

This annual report is a call to action to recognize the things that are having an impact on the internet today through research and analysis, and to embrace the notion that we as humans can change how we make money, govern societies, and interact with one another online.

Every year the Mozilla Foundation chooses a small number of themes to focus on. This year's report spotlights three areas with essays that make for interesting reading and are full of links to evidence from whitepapers and external articles from many sources:

  1. Let's Ask More of AI
    The expanding capabilities of machines and artificial intelligence to "learn" and "make decisions".

  2. Rethinking Digital Ads
    Efforts to fix the problems with targeted advertising and personal data collection that sit at the heart of so much that is wrong with the internet.

  3. The Power of Cities 
    The power of local governments to work together to make the internet healthier worldwide. 

ihrep19 cities

Other highlights include articles on the threat of deepfakes, the potential of user-owned social media platforms, pornography literacy initiatives, investment in undersea cables, and the dangers of sharing DNA results online.

In his overview of the project, It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report, Executive Director Mark Surman writes: 

So, what’s our conclusion? How healthy is the internet right now? It’s complicated — the digital environment is a complex ecosystem, just like the planet we live on.

He notes the following as positive trends in the past year that show that the internet, and our relationship with it, is getting healthier:

  • Calls for privacy becoming mainstream
  • A movement to build more responsible AI
  • Questions about the impact of ‘big tech’ growing 

On the other hand he notes as negative trends:

  • Internet censorship flourishing
  • Biometrics being abused
  • AI amplifying injustice

His blog post concludes:

This Report is designed to be both a reflection and resource for this kind of work. It is meant to offer technologists and designers inspiration about what they might build; to give policymakers context and ideas for the laws they need to write; and, most of all, to provide citizens and activists with a picture of where others are pushing for a better internet, in the hope that more and more people around the world will push for change themselves. Ultimately, it is by more and more of us doing something in our work and our lives that we will create an internet that is open, human and humane.


More Information

Mozilla Internet Health Report - Download pdf

It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report

Related Articles

Mozilla Looks Into Health of Internet

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 April 2019 )