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Big tech’s dominance over internet use and control over personal data has prompted calls for the internet to be decentralised. The third version of the internet, known as Web3, will be defined by open-source technology and will be trust less and permissionless, thanks to blockchain technology. Web3 is still in its infancy, and there are many unanswered questions. As the internet has grown in popularity, it has had a significant impact on our lives, influencing everything from what we read to what we buy, what we watch on TV, and how we interact. It appears to know all there is to know about us, including our likes and dislikes, friends, shopping patterns, even favourite cat videos.

This deep understanding could be construed in either a positive or negative light. Advertisements for things you didn’t know you wanted and news stories you didn’t know you wanted to read can be aimed at you. This customisation might be useful, but it can also be intrusive. There are numerous issues about who has access to and management over this personal data. Big tech has been increasingly chastised for its usage and potential abuse of personal data, as well as their disproportionate influence over the internet due to their market dominance. As of 2019, Google (Alphabet), Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), Netflix, Microsoft, and Apple account for 43 percent of all net traffic. This dominance is furthermore pronounced in their key categories, with Google owning about 87 percent of the worldwide search industry and Meta reaching 3.6 billion unique users across its four major platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram).

Taking back control of huge tech Web3 is a new internet iteration that uses blockchain to “decentralise” management, limiting the power of large firms like Google and Meta and making it more democratic. It is defined by open-source software, is trust less (i.e., it does not require the assistance of a trusted third party) and is permissionless (it has no governing body). The third iteration of the internet is known as Web3. The internet’s original incarnation comprised of read-only, static webpages (view a BBC homepage from August 2000 as an example). Web 2.0 enabled users to engage with and create content, allowing for activities like social media, online banking, and shopping. The term “Web3” has been around for over a decade, having been invented in 2014 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood.

The growth of blockchain technologies, rising NFT marketplaces, venture capital investments, and continued calls to reign in the dominance of big tech helped it gain traction in 2021. The use of Web3 is increasing. The present internet, known as Web 2.0, is based on systems and servers that are mostly owned and operated by large corporations, generating worries about system security and control. There were calls to adopt Web3 and its decentralised architecture after Meta’s linked platforms experienced a global outage in early October, which was compounded by the centralization of its servers. Adherents to Web3 argue that online activity should be directed by the masses rather than the incentives and biases of a select few. After all, why should giant corporations have power over our personal information?

 

Tarun Kumar Taunk

Editor-In-Chief

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