The European Union is launching a public consultation to find out what people fear most about the future of the Internet. A succession of surveys over the coming weeks will ask people for their views on everything from privacy and security to artificial intelligence, net neutrality, big data and the impact of the digital world on jobs, health, government and democracy.
The project is being led by REIsearch, a non-profit initiative co-funded by the European Commission. “Internet technologies have fundamentally changed our world over the last 40 years, and the next generation of internet technologies have the potential to disrupt global economics, societies, and lived environment in ways we couldn’t previously imagine,” it said.
The European Commission recently launched its “Next Generation Internet Initiative” to drive the development of a “human-centric Internet, where technology is intended as a powerful tool to strengthen the shared European values of equality, fairness, inclusiveness, freedom and democracy”. The research organisation said: “To help make this vision become a reality, REIsearch and its media partners are launching what aims to be the largest public consultation on the future of the Internet.”
A series of publications are being used to publicise the surveys, including Der Standard, El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, La Libre Belgique, Gazeta Wyborcza, Luxemburger Wort, Público, Il Sole 24 Ore, The Lancet, Cell and the Guardian. The aim is to give policymakers a better sense of public priorities in their decision-making; the first questionnaire is available here.
“The internet’s impact on our world is already enormous and will accelerate even more in the coming years with the rise of artificial intelligence, the bridging of the physical and digital worlds and the pervasive use of data,” Jesús Villasante, a commission official, told the Guardian. “We believe the digital world should respect the same values and rights we enjoy in the physical one. We also believe Europe has the potential to be a key player in internet matters even if many important decisions are taken elsewhere.”