Decentralisation has been the reason the Internet grew big. It protects the Internet against attacks. It enables easy access for innovation and participants. It prevents infringement on freedoms. However, decentralisation also makes it impossible to take control, which is why your Internet Service Provider does not like it (think netneutrality), your government frowns upon it (think cybercrime) and the content industry is not happy at all (think copyright). For the sake of digital democracy and in honour of what the Internet brought us, we should save the decentralisation.

In a decentralised world, there is no central authority or single point of failure. Where the democratic constructs like the Trias Politica spread the power across multiple entities, decentralisation on the Internet means that every connection is, in principle, equal to all other connections. In theory, any connection could be added or removed without changing the nature of the Internet.

Without decentralisation, the Internet would not have been what it is today. This by itself shows the great importance of decentralisation. Nevertheless, the lack of central authorities makes it difficult to police it, which makes fighting cybercrime a difficult battle. As can be seen with the wide range of copyright infringements, it is practically impossible to stop the sharing of illegal material without taking very drastic measures. Nowadays, Internet Service Providers want to have extra payment from big companies, which the users of those websites already paid them for. Mobile operators want to prevent people from using Skype, although their own telephone services are just not competitive. This shows that the neutrality of the net is under fire, which also means bringing down decentralisation.

This broad attack on one of the core principle of the Internet asks for a big stance. We need to show why decentralisation is important, and why it outweighs commercial and judicial interests by far. Decentralisation is needed to prevent attacks on the Internet, to enable access to all citizen, and to protect our freedom.

You Cannot Bring the Internet Down
If someone were to disconnect the Americas from the other continents, the Internet would not be fully broken. We would have two “Internets”. This is one of the most wonderful properties of the Internet, due to it being a network of computer networks. It does not rely on one single connection and will survive most attacks on its infrastructure.

Introducing centralisation in the infrastructure, just for reasons of control, creates a single point of failure. It creates something that can be attacked in a way that the complete network goes down. Given how vital the Internet has become, such interference is not worth it.

Participation and Innovation: Driving Factors of Our Economy
Due to its nature, anyone can hook up his computer with the Internet. This easy access has enabled all sorts of innovation. Think of all the, now major, companies that started out on an attic with an Internet connection. We have the decentralised nature to think for this enormous stream of innovation that flows and keeps on flowing through the Internet.

Besides innovation, also participation of citizens is a driving force. Those citizens can be consumers who push the innovation even further, but those citizens can also be participants in a democracy that share their opinions, read newspapers and engage in discussions. For a democracy, these things are vital, and, as a proponent of digital democracy, this gives me a very warm feeling.

Centralisation Kills Freedom
In a centralised world, freedom cannot exist. Centralisation means a central authority, a dictator. We all know what effect that would have, and we all want to prevent this to the fullest.

Although the Internet enables some forms of cybercrime, it also makes all sorts of democratic participation possible. The decentralised nature of the network of networks makes sure that, in theory, no government can control our expressions, our opinions, or our exposure to information. Centralisation would pervert this too much, and would tear down all those freedoms the Internet can bring us.

All Aboard to Protect the Internet!
These days, all sorts of companies and parties want to change the fundamental principles of the Internet for economic or political reasons. The Domain Name System, the telephone book of the Internet, already came under a lot of governmental control, and the Internet Service Providers also tighten their grip on a daily basis. If we want to protect the Internet and save all the wonderful things it brought us, we should save the decentralisation. So, all aboard, protect the Internet!

2 Responses to Decentralisation Empowered the Internet, Now We Should Save It

  1. […] Again: Decentralisation Is the Power of the Internet I already stated it before: without decentralisation, the Internet would not be what it is today. Peer-to-peer protocols are one of the best examples of decentralised use of the Internet. In a […]

  2. […] The Internet As It Should Be I already discussed this point before: the Internet is built from decentralised and neutral networks, which is what makes it so powerful. […]

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