Edward Snowden Surprises TED to Talk About the Web

Ten years ago, a discussion about how the web should develop and what privacy rights its users could claim wasn’t much of a discussion. Back then, everyone simply was excited about the new direction the web was taking: more social, more interactive, and more focused on the user.

The web still continues to develop in this manner, but the situation has been changing rapidly. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter combined with web giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo have amassed an unimaginable amount of data about all of us on the web. Most of this makes our online experience better, but there are problems that stem from collecting this information.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, the world learned last year about the NSA, government snooping, and data collection on a scale that shocked all but the best-informed. Just this week, Edward Snowden appeared via a robot connected to the internet at the TED conference and was interviewed by Chris Anderson, the TED curator.

The over 30-minute conversation covered a variety of topics. Snowden reminded and warned listeners that “people who have seen and enjoyed the free and open internet, it’s up to us to preserve that liberty for the next generation to enjoy.”

It seems now that everyone on the web has a much more serious choice about where to take the internet than we did 10 years ago. Now it isn’t about how to make interaction more social and about the user, it’s about protecting privacy and the very openness of the web itself.

As we recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the web, it’s important to take a moment and think about what sort of internet is needed that will work for everyone. Perhaps this will be the next big moment in the internet’s history. Hopefully, the web becomes something that users want and need so it continues moving forward, but this time it might take more involvement from everyone to keep our information and privacy intact.

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