If you have heard of or are familiar with Bitcoin, you are witnessing that revolution of decentralizing the Internet. The Internet we know now is not the net we knew just 10 years ago, and it is not the same as the Internet we will see in the next decade. Think about the daily activities that occur on the Internet: file sharing, photo sharing, sending and receiving money, and collaborating or saving files to a cloud. This is the centralized Internet we know today, but there is a technology Super Storm brewing and it will completely transform the Internet platform. Decentralization of the Internet is inevitable, and it is simply a change of power: Internet control is taken away from the bureaucracy’s government agencies, and it is placed in the hands of its users.
The movement to grant users control of their own data is one that many programmers, law professors, and anyone else who values security and privacy, is to decentralize the Internet. The process of decentralizing the Internet makes users ‘self-hosts,’ out of the boardroom and government institutions and in to the hands of the users.
Many technologies will contribute to the transition to a decentralized internet: peer-to-peer social network models; open source software routers that enable communities to build their own mesh networks; mesh networking apps; small, wearable computer devices; Wireless Registry; Cryptocurrency; cryptography; peer-to-peer payments and lending sources; and online learning platforms. Ownership will be authenticated and correspondence will be achieved individually. Instead of large scale hack attacks, ‘.bit’ domains and the information on the sites cannot be taken over by government agencies or criminals; access is granted to or surrendered by the owner of the site.
It is expected by 2020 that more than 50 billion devices will access the Internet, which means data and privacy are the most susceptible victims of the centralized Internet. Decentralization will face tough legal, political, social and technological challenges. With anonymity and control being the focus of the movement, pushback will surmount. One of the most desirable functions of decentralization may also be its greatest hurdle. It is possible that liability and accountability will be compromised as well, as increased illegal activities. Nevertheless, privacy, ownership, data protection and innovation will keep the decentralized Internet a technology for the people.