I have been a convert to the Internet since the earliest days
working on some of the first database based Internet search
engines, serving on European committees to develop the
Internet, working with the UK Information Technology
National Training Organisation and the Department of Trade
and Industry. In those days, through the 1990s, everybody in
the industry believed the Internet was a ‘good thing’,
allowing the free exchange of information anywhere in the
world. That is what www meant, a world wide web.
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Unfortunately, we were all naïve, computer technicians,
software developers, communications service providers,
politicians, all of us. We had not considered the criminal
elements within society, political systems with a skewed view
of ‘freedom’, terrorists and all the evil people in the world.
We used to joke that if you wanted to see where the Internet
technologies were going, you should keep an eye on the sex
websites. They were the ones then that were generating
vast amounts of income and developing their sites. Perhaps
we should have realised that paedophiles and perverts
would see an opportunity there to spread their networks.
Perhaps measures should have been taken twenty years
ago to restrict the type of information allowed on the net. But
no, most of us thought, hoped, that existing laws were
enough, and nothing was done. Mind you there was also
increasing pressure from various liberal ‘rights’ and ‘freedom
of speech’ groups to maintain a deregulated Internet, not to
mention the dot com companies who were making fortunes,
and significant tax revenue for, primarily, western,
Nor did we realise that the Internet would permeate every
aspect of life and allow even our own, ‘good’ politicians and
the so-called free press, to contort and misrepresent facts to
suit their own arguments or points of view.
Philosophising with hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it
does not solve the problem.
Now most right-thinking people, that’s everybody apart from
the criminals, terrorists, perverts and some politicians who
still cannot get their facts straight, realise that measures
have to be taken. The Internet will become regulated, of that
there is no doubt. So now all we must worry about is how
governments will use this opportunity to exert even more
control over their citizens.
Do I sound bitter and cynical? Yes, I do and am. We had a
fantastic opportunity to bring something good into the world,
and we blew it.
Still, look on the bright side. It’s sunny and warm in
Andalucia, the sky is blue, the beer is cold, and the sea looks
inviting. What more could I ask for?
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