It’s hard to believe how young the Internet still is. Just twenty to thirty years ago, when I suspect that much of this site’s readership will have been born, it was an insignificant tool that very few people had access to, yet it now plays an essential role in day-to-day life.
From computers and smartphones to watches and eyewear, almost anything can now be connected to what is essentially one huge global network, which is constantly evolving further.
To analyse the sheer scope of the technology’s continued ascension, let us look at ten of the biggest impacts, both positive and negative, that it has had on society (in alphabetical order).
‘We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget’
Nothing epitomises the anonymity of the Internet more than Anonymous, the worldwide group of self-proclaimed ‘hacktivists’ whose actions have had a number of significant impacts on corporations around the globe. Collectively shielding their identities behind a collection of Guy Fawkes masks from V For Vendetta, the group were ranked amongst the most powerful entities in the world last year by Time magazine, yet would not exist if not for the internet.
Using a pseudonym to avoid detection is nothing new – it became prevalent for Italian anarchists to adopt the name of former Watford footballer Luther Blissett, for instance – but the increasing prevalence of the Internet has allowed everyday individuals to act out of character behind a veil of anonymity, allowing them to act in a hostile way towards other individuals without repercussion or actively partake in illegal activities such as hate group membership.
Anonymity can therefore be extremely dangerous, particularly to governments, as the rise of Wikileaks has shown through its releases of leaked cables that document questionable government practices and actions.
Should people be held accountable for everything they do? How much privacy is too much? All are questions that anonymity on the internet has raised, and which people across the world will have different responses to.
This article was first posted on July 10, 2013