In Washington, D.C. Friday, the tech and web industries gathered for a conference on the future of the internet, hosted by the United Nations and the Internet Governance Forum.
Hopes were high for more connectivity in more countries. But the future can be dangerous too. Stephen Balkam worries about privacy. He runs the Family Online Safety Institute, and says as the internet advances, so does access to our personal information.
“All of this could start to get collected in a way that we’ve never seen before, and it could have profound implications on our privacy,” he said.
Kimberly Nguyen is a law student at Harvard. She participated on a youth panel that afternoon, and says she’s addicted to the internet. Her blackberry, facebook — you name it, she’s on it. But she’s trying hard to keep her online identity to herself.
“There’s always the threat that the information could fall into the wrong hands,” she said.
Kim wrote her law school dissertation on a Facebook feature called Beacon. Facebook tracked what users bought on Amazon and eBay, and posted that personal information onto news feeds on the Facebook site. Kim helped get that feature shut down.
“I think the main concern is the collection and disclosure of information without the users knowledge,” she said. “I think that happens a lot.”
And when the internet evolves, many at the conference say it will happen a lot more.