Inside IONOS


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00:00:00: [Music playing] [Applause] 

00:00:07: [Music playing] Hello and welcome  

00:00:09: to Inside IONOS. My name is Andreas Maurer. The  internet, with its predecessor the ARPANET, is 50  

00:00:14: years old. The Internet is indispensable nowadays.  Everyone carries mobile internet access in their  

00:00:18: trousers with a smartphone, and because of social  media, everyone has become a content creator. But,  

00:00:23: censorship efforts, surveillance, and the risk  of data misuse threaten the basic principles  

00:00:27: of freedom and openness that have characterized  the internet. Nicole Scott, a Scottish journalist  

00:00:31: who lives for a couple of years in Berlin, has  dealt with this subject in a video documentary. 

00:00:37: [Music playing] Welcome to INSIDE IONOS, Nicole. Thank you very  

00:00:43: much for inviting me. So, what made you want  to make this documentary about the openness and  

00:00:50: freedom of the Internet in the first place? It was  really interesting. I started talking to Annabelle  

00:00:55: from IONOS and we were brainstorming. We were  really thinking about different ideas of what's  

00:01:01: going to happen in the future. It was sort of over  dinner and we realised that there's a discussion  

00:01:07: coming up and it's going to be important in the  future to discuss the ideas of digital democracy,  

00:01:13: the fact that our internet has borders.  What does that mean for the everyday person,  

00:01:19: like how are we going to trust in the future?  And website ownership and domain validation  

00:01:25: was one of the central ideas that we kept coming  back to and what does that mean in the future and  

00:01:29: how are we gonna have information. We just got  excited about it and that's how it was born. Was  

00:01:36: there any particular element that made you move in  this direction, anything where you say the freedom  

00:01:42: of the internet is at risk? I think if we all  look at the news and the state of the media,  

00:01:48: we can all see that our digital freedoms are at  risk. With AI in the last year, everything is  

00:01:55: becoming more uncertain, and the ability for the  average person to fact check and understand what's  

00:02:02: real and what's not is something that's becoming  more present every day. As we move forward and we  

00:02:09: think about digital freedom, what does that even  mean anymore? Because the idea that the freedom to  

00:02:16: say whatever you want online, as in freedom  of speech, is not the right conversation,  

00:02:21: and that's something everybody plays out. And  we got to the point where it's also cultural,  

00:02:27: what's okay to say out loud, and it's not even  about democratic versus non-democratic, it's  

00:02:33: about how do we come to a consensus online? And we  had the net neutrality discussion a few years ago,  

00:02:40: and it's evolved into content governance online.  It's the whole scenario of what the internet is  

00:02:46: changing. And I think as a technology expert it  was hard to say: this is how the internet works.  

00:02:54: And when we got down to it, the infrastructure  of the internet was this layer that is a physical  

00:03:00: thing and is hyper-controlling, the way content  looks and is viewed and feels online. And the  

00:03:07: physical infrastructure of the internet is  definitely one of those things that even  

00:03:10: technology experts today would be hard pressed  to say this is exactly how it will work in 2024. 

00:03:17: And that was a layer that I thought was really  interesting because the physical layer of the  

00:03:23: Internet is real, it's tangible, it's wires and  cables and servers, and everyone tends to think  

00:03:28: of the Internet as an abstract concept, when  it's service providers like IONOS that deal  

00:03:34: with the physical hardware empowering the  internet. And how does that layer work with  

00:03:41: the ideas of content in the future? And I found  that really interesting because no one has looked  

00:03:45: at this physical, tangible thing because I like  to be reminded that it's not an abstract concept,  

00:03:51: the Internet, even though all the debates around  the Internet are philosophical. The internet is  

00:03:56: a physical thing, governed by physical rules. And  that was comforting to me. Before we go a little  

00:04:02: bit deeper into a lot of the issues that you've  mentioned, obviously you didn't do this alone,  

00:04:06: you talked to a lot of experts. I think I counted  17 or 18 different people that you've interviewed.  

00:04:11: How did you choose these experts?, When you're  looking at what's going to happen online in the  

00:04:16: future in terms of physical infrastructure, the  list made itself. I didn't want to talk to the  

00:04:25: same leaders that everybody's been talking to for  the last decade about what's going to happen. I  

00:04:30: wanted to talk to the people who are shaping the  rules and policies today. ICANN, and then that  

00:04:37: led to the IETF, which I had never heard of, and  they also gave me different names of people they  

00:04:44: thought I should talk to. After I said no, I don't  want to talk to the big names of the internet, the  

00:04:49: founders, I want to talk to people who are working  and shaping it today. And I added Lily Ray,  

00:04:55: who's one of the most influential SEO experts,  and I added Monty from MariaDB, who's also a  

00:05:02: legacy influencer, but he's also shaping the way  databases are moving forward. Then there's Martin  

00:05:08: from SAP, who's a futurist, who's using their very  big and influential technology to, you know, shape  

00:05:16: the way businesses are going to evolve. It's these  people who are shaping the future of the Internet.  

00:05:23: You've really covered a lot of different aspects  and one thing that you've mentioned several  

00:05:27: times is the physical infrastructure, the wires  that make up the internet. When you think about  

00:05:33: freedom and openness, that's not the first thing  that comes to mind. Maybe you could talk about  

00:05:39: how that physical infrastructure relates to that  aspect of freedom and democracy on the Internet.  

00:05:45: The reason you have to deal with the physical  is because of the DNS, and this is where it gets  

00:05:50: really interesting because the Domain Name Server  just seems nerdy and random as a central issue,  

00:05:57: but it's because it's become political. Maybe  we should just roughly explain what DNS is for  

00:06:03: people who haven't heard the term. It's the  Domain Name Service, and it's basically like  

00:06:07: the phone book of the internet. Yeah, exactly.  In the content series I play a librarian for  

00:06:14: one scene because the librarian acts like the  DNS, you know, it knows where all the books are,  

00:06:20: I go and find the books and I bring the books  back. It's like I'm fetching content from the  

00:06:25: internet. I think what people miss is that the  content of a website is on a single server in  

00:06:32: a single place. Yes, there are ways in which  content is replicated online, but in general the  

00:06:39: content sits in one place. The DNS will take you  to that place and then it will bring the content  

00:06:45: back to you. What happens is that because of  the physicality of the location of the DNS,  

00:06:52: it's a specific place, governments can say, you  know what, let's just block the DNS, we'll just  

00:06:57: stop people from going there, we'll say they can't  visit this physical location. But the problem is,  

00:07:05: just because someone can't visit it doesn't mean  that it's not still physically there. The content  

00:07:10: is still sitting on the server in Germany and  Switzerland and somewhere else. It's just that you  

00:07:15: can't get to it because you don't know the phone  number or you don't know the location. To me it's  

00:07:22: a lazy way of moderating content, because  you can make requests to take down content,  

00:07:28: and that's something governments avoid because  it's a bit sloppy. But then they say, well,  

00:07:34: let's just pick the DNS. They're messing with  the physical infrastructure of the internet.  

00:07:41: How the information gets from a physical server  to your smartphone. And that's why it became  

00:07:49: interesting to me, because if we're looking at how  the internet is going to be free in the future,  

00:07:53: we need to know how we're going to moderate  our content, what content governance looks like  

00:07:58: online, and the physicality of the internet plays  a big part in that. The most famous or infamous  

00:08:05: example is the so-called Great Firewall of China,  where the Chinese government has taken control of  

00:08:11: the entire DNS infrastructure. But then again,  China is not the only country. I mean, we have  

00:08:16: similar discussions here in Europe, and even in  Germany, I can remember the first discussions  

00:08:21: about excessive blocking in 2006 or 2007, more  than 15 years ago, when we discussed this for  

00:08:26: dealing with child pornography. But we also had  the same discussion in Germany, for example, about  

00:08:30: gambling sites, which are illegal in some German  states. It's not just something that happens in  

00:08:36: the communist part of the world. I think that's  exactly it. We have this illusion that because  

00:08:43: we live in a democratic country that we have  an open and free internet, but the truth is  

00:08:48: that even though we have democracy, it doesn't  guarantee freedom online. And I think that's  

00:08:54: one of the central ideas that I try to get across,  and why I talk about China and its great firewall,  

00:09:00: is because, like in China, people know  that content is being blocked, people know  

00:09:05: that they're being monitored, and they're more  digitally savvy because of it. I feel like maybe  

00:09:11: we have a complacency in democratic states because  we believe that our internet is online, we're not  

00:09:16: as vigilant about maintaining its freedom, because  we somehow believe that democracy in our country  

00:09:23: state means democracy online, and that's not true.  We have to look at how we develop rules for the  

00:09:31: internet because there's no global guidelines. I  mean, there are technical guidelines, but there's  

00:09:36: no global content guidelines. It's all country by  country. It's definitely a challenge for a global  

00:09:43: company like ianos because of course we have to  comply with a lot of different laws, like all  

00:09:47: the ISPs and so on, and all the big companies, and  it's really a challenge, um, because as you said,  

00:09:52: there's not just this one law that governs the  Internet, there's a lot of different regulations  

00:09:57: in different countries. And as a company working  in this space, it's very difficult to comply  

00:10:01: with all the regulations around the world. And  that's absolutely true, and it's one of those  

00:10:06: things where ISPs around the world are not all  trustworthy, you know what I mean? There are  

00:10:12: countries where you have to be careful and you  have to know what laws your ISP is following.  

00:10:18: And there's one issue that I touched on, which is  internet throttling, and I found that interesting  

00:10:24: because it's a legal way of controlling the  internet. And there are business cases for it. No,  

00:10:31: I think it depends on where you are whether it's  legal. I think that's basically net neutrality.  

00:10:35: We mentioned that term at the beginning, that  we're talking about the idea of net neutrality,  

00:10:40: that basically every bit is equal. And in  Europe, for example, we have had a regulation  

00:10:43: that enforces net neutrality for a couple of years  now. I think it also depends on which jurisdiction  

00:10:50: you are in, what you can do. And here in Germany,  for example, we've had some big court cases where  

00:10:54: some ISP services have been shut down because  they didn't comply with net neutrality. Yeah,  

00:10:59: and there was this big one in the US where I can't  remember which telco bought Hulu and then tried  

00:11:06: to divert all their traffic to Hulu, and like  throttled Netflix to make people try to switch  

00:11:11: service providers. There is a business case behind  how throttling happens in democratic countries.  

00:11:19: It's not just the way it happens in China where,  you know, instead of blocking a website, you know,  

00:11:24: it's just throttled you're not sure if it's just  your internet where the pages are loading or if  

00:11:31: it's being blocked. The same technology is used  legally in a lot of countries, but then it can be  

00:11:38: used by oppressive states to control content.  It's also a way in which we in our democratic  

00:11:45: countries are aware that this could be a way in  which governments could control the free flow  

00:11:53: of access to content by not blocking it but just  making it slower or harder to access. But again,  

00:11:58: you're talking about democratic countries, but not  all democratic countries have the same rules. I'm  

00:12:03: just thinking about another issue that you touched  on, which is the area of social networks, which  

00:12:06: have become really huge powers in terms of public  opinion, they should definitely watch what they're  

00:12:14: doing. But on the other hand, again, when you talk  about things like hate speech in general, how do  

00:12:19: social networks deal with civil liberties, with  privacy and especially with freedom of speech?  

00:12:25: The rules are very different from country to  country. For example, in both the US and Germany,  

00:12:30: freedom of speech is enshrined in the constitution  in different ways, but it has a very different  

00:12:34: status in the US than it does here. Totally, and I  think that makes it very difficult. Yeah, I mean,  

00:12:41: nowhere in the world is there as much freedom  to say whatever you want as there is in America,  

00:12:46: you know. I mean, that thing just doesn't work in  a lot of other countries. One of the ideas that I  

00:12:51: bring up in the show is the fact that in Germany,  the rules about what you can say are strict,  

00:13:00: and this creates a nicer narrative than what  can happen in, say, America, where you're just  

00:13:06: allowed to say whatever you want. But then it  got interesting when I looked at this video game,  

00:13:11: Wolfenstein 2, which came out a couple of years  ago, and they replaced the Nazi symbolism with  

00:13:16: a different symbol. Because in video games  specifically, you know, you couldn't show that  

00:13:21: in Germany. I mean, they relaxed the laws for  video games, but then it was, you know, illegal  

00:13:27: in Germany but legal everywhere else. Because  of Germany's history, its cultural background,  

00:13:33: you know, it makes sense, and it also makes sense  to relax the rules in video games. For example,  

00:13:39: Germany changed the law to, you know, keep up  with modern times. It's just an example of how  

00:13:44: cultural relativity, you know, really affects the  content that we're going to see in each country.  

00:13:50: And I don't think it's going to get any easier  as we move forward because countries are putting  

00:13:55: up more and more borders around their content  and creating sort of borders online. And that's  

00:14:03: a reality, but it feels like a new thing that's  going to be a discussion over the next few years,  

00:14:09: and it's gaining momentum now. We've said  we don't have a global internet government,  

00:14:15: but on the other hand we do have something  like that. You mentioned two bodies that exist,  

00:14:19: one is the IETF, the Internet Engineering Task  Force, and the other is ICANN, the Internet  

00:14:26: Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Yeah,  I haven't heard that one for a while. Oh man,  

00:14:32: what a long name, it's awkward too. What is the  purpose of these organisations and how are they  

00:14:40: set up in this global context? Well, it took me  a while to really understand what ICANN does.  

00:14:47: They assign names and numbers, it's website  addresses, IP addresses, like the numbers that  

00:14:55: you just put together with dots, and then they  control all the domain names. And I thought, oh,  

00:15:00: why is this a big deal? .com, .de, .ru, .biz,  .tv, I mean, we have so many. What power can  

00:15:11: this really have? And then I realised, a lot.  ICANN used to be an American-focused body,  

00:15:19: and then it became international because so much  power couldn't be consolidated in one country.  

00:15:26: And now it's a multi-stakeholder approach, all  these companies, including IONOS, have a say in  

00:15:35: what happens with these domain identifiers. What  could go wrong? Well, a lot. At the beginning of  

00:15:42: the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukraine tried to kick  Russia off the Internet, to take their .ru domain  

00:15:49: off the Internet. And now, if ICANN had said  yes, no one would be able to visit a .ru website,  

00:15:56: and that is huge. If Russia, for example,  were to take control of their domain name,  

00:16:04: instead of it being with ICANN, which is a  neutral governing body, Russia could potentially,  

00:16:10: if they chose to, if they got control of their  domain name, then any website within that domain  

00:16:18: would not be trustworthy, because they could  decide that this newspaper that all Russians get  

00:16:23: their news from is suddenly a government front,  but it's still got the name that everyone trusts,  

00:16:29: and it's just redirected. They could redirect  any website within .ru to make it whatever they  

00:16:37: want it to be, to show any information. And that  is bad for freedom and openness. And that's why  

00:16:45: ICANN is very important. And I started talking to  ICANN, and then everybody kept saying IETF, IETF,  

00:16:52: and I thought, what is this task force? And  I liked it. Task Force, it felt really action  

00:16:56: oriented. But they're the ones who control  the technical specifications of the internet.  

00:17:03: The best example is when the internet changed  from sequential loading. If you have a website,  

00:17:09: the page sort of loads from top to bottom, and  then we went to dynamic. And that happened because  

00:17:16: we were getting voice calls and it mattered,  the order of the packets. Because we couldn't  

00:17:21: have our video and voice coming in the order that  was easiest for the internet to send. That's how  

00:17:27: we got video calls online as standard across all  browsers. That's how we got responsive, dynamic  

00:17:34: websites. It was through changes in standards. But  what's even stranger is that with ICANN, you have  

00:17:40: to follow the rules and they come to a consensus.  With the IETF, it's just guidelines. Someone can  

00:17:45: decide whatever they want. I don't think that's an  aspect you covered in your documentary, but it's  

00:17:51: really interesting, uh, interesting because the  main standards of the Internet are called RFCs,  

00:17:56: Requests for Comments. So, and that's how it  all started, back in the days of the ARPANET,  

00:18:00: the predecessor of the Internet, which was  funded by the US Department of Defense, where  

00:18:04: they started sending out a request for comments  to propose a standard, and all the engineers just  

00:18:09: eventually agreed on what was best for the system.  And a lot of the way the Internet works today is  

00:18:13: still based on those RFCs. It's quite interesting  how these two systems work side by side. Yeah,  

00:18:20: that's it. It's this multi-stakeholder approach  where everybody sort of has a voice, you know.  

00:18:26: What's interesting about the task force is that,  I'm talking about Google Chrome. How Chrome could  

00:18:34: just decide that they want to change the timelines  for security certificates? Now they're every year,  

00:18:41: but Google wants to change them to every three  months. And basically, if they did that, they  

00:18:45: would be forcing an internet standard. And people  asking themselves if that's part of Google's job  

00:18:51: to decide the security of all the websites on the  internet? But then, in the same breath, is it bad  

00:18:57: that websites are secured every 3 months because  it gives, you know, bad actors less time to hack  

00:19:02: in. Like, it's not a bad suggestion, it's just,  do we want Google to have that much control? Yeah,  

00:19:09: it's probably just their market power. Another  aspect where Google plays a role is the way  

00:19:14: browsers used to work. At least, I don't know  if it's still the same, but about 10 years ago,  

00:19:20: you definitely had to write different code in HTML  for Internet Explorer, for Chrome, for Mozilla  

00:19:26: Firefox, because of course the W3C standard  for HTML, but then every company used their own  

00:19:32: flavour of it and they didn't always interact with  each other. Absolutely, I remember thinking, oh,  

00:19:38: this website doesn't work in Netscape, I wonder  what browser they've programmed it for. You're  

00:19:43: putting it into different browsers and trying to  figure out how to make it work. And also talking  

00:19:49: about Google, who are behind Chrome, of course  Google is the world's biggest search engine and  

00:19:55: that plays an important role in the freedom of  the internet. Yeah, that's why I was talking to  

00:20:02: Lily Ray, because, honestly, this SEO issue is  just very interesting because, honestly, as a  

00:20:08: former website owner, I would always think, oh,  this is, you know, snake oil, like SEOs are just  

00:20:14: making up the rules as they go along. But then  it does affect businesses, doesn't it? Like, your  

00:20:19: search visibility online is going to affect your  livelihood. You can't not take them seriously,  

00:20:28: but they're guessing what Google is going to  do with their algorithms. And there are other  

00:20:35: search engines out there, it's just that Google is  the biggest, they dominate the market and decide  

00:20:41: who has a stronger livelihood online. If you're a  chiropractor who doesn't need the internet, your  

00:20:47: visibility as a chiropractor to get new business  is going to come from online. The way we work and  

00:20:57: live is increasingly tied to our digital presence  online, whether we like it or not. And that's  

00:21:03: what's a bit scary about, like, Google's control.  We talked about the hardware infrastructure of  

00:21:08: the internet, but of course at least half of the  internet is also software. And basically most of  

00:21:14: the internet is based on open source software.  I mean, if you think about the Apache web server  

00:21:19: and its successors, open source databases like  MySQL, MariaDB as its successor, how important  

00:21:27: has open source been to the development of the  Internet, and what are the current developments  

00:21:32: in that area? For me, open source is incredibly  important because we need a system that is  

00:21:40: verifiable, that is verifiable, that is open, and  we need something that multiple people can work  

00:21:45: on. And one of the things that I've discovered  over the course of this series is that people  

00:21:53: don't really want to talk about open source that  much anymore. They just think it's a base that  

00:21:58: lives there, and you know, like, everybody's  just sort of, it's there. It's not changing,  

00:22:04: that may not be true, but that's the attitude.  And everybody's focused now on open standards,  

00:22:09: interoperability, how things work together.  But the problem with that is that just because  

00:22:16: something has an open standard doesn't mean  it's not part of a closed system. Big companies  

00:22:25: can have closed systems but an open standard that  works with them, and that's not really the spirit  

00:22:31: of open source technology at all. And I found it  disheartening that the whole industry narrative  

00:22:39: has moved from a real open source community to  a little bit more of a focus on open standards.  

00:22:46: It's interesting that you still have some people  who are really pushing this idea of open source,  

00:22:50: like Monty Widenius, who you talked to at the  Iyona Summit, who invented MySQL, then, uh, his  

00:22:57: company was sold to Oracle, who tried to make a  business out of it. And as a reaction to that, he  

00:23:01: invented the next system, free software, MariaDB,  which he put into a foundation to make sure that  

00:23:07: it stayed open and free. And I think that's  the important work that needs to happen,  

00:23:11: because without openness, without a platform of  true interoperability, we're not really going to  

00:23:20: be able to build anything meaningful. And  that's the thing that I'm worried about going  

00:23:26: away because I do a lot of work in the automotive  industry. And I talk to a lot of executives there,  

00:23:32: and they can't wrap their heads around the fact  that it's open and free, but there's still a  

00:23:37: business model around it. It's been around for 50  years, how is that still an issue? That's one of  

00:23:46: the challenges of it. And I think that is crazy.  Another big topic that's on everyone's lips every  

00:23:53: day, every hour, every time there's a news story,  is of course AI, artificial intelligence. And you  

00:24:00: touched on this briefly in one of your segments.  How do you think AI will affect the state of the  

00:24:06: internet in terms of openness and freedom? I think  we're going to have a digital divide later on with  

00:24:11: people who don't understand how AI works. I mean,  we're a year or more into it now, and I think  

00:24:18: we're already starting to see a divide between  people who use AI and people who don't. Because  

00:24:24: it's about optimising the way you work, it's about  supercharging your workflow, that's how I see it  

00:24:29: as a journalist. I'm the most at risk from AI, but  I'm not really worried about it. But it's because,  

00:24:38: like, for me, there's going to be a divide between  journalists who know how to use AI properly and  

00:24:42: journalists who don't. I think it's going to be  the same for a lot of industries. And if you're  

00:24:50: not increasing your digital literacy to understand  what AI is, how it works, what blockchain is,  

00:24:58: how it works, why it's important for the future  of our society. If you don't understand these  

00:25:06: concepts, then you're in danger of being left  behind. And that's more the point I'm making,  

00:25:10: not that we should be afraid of technology, but  we should be afraid of our reluctance to engage  

00:25:16: with technology in a meaningful way. If we all  just think that it's, you know, we're online all  

00:25:22: the time and we're just consuming on Instagram and  scrolling and, you know, we're just putting things  

00:25:29: out there in a way that we think the algorithm  will like or we think our network will like,  

00:25:34: then we're not contributing meaningfully. It's  really about understanding how technology works  

00:25:41: and how we can best use it, and that's a  challenge for society at large. Definitely,  

00:25:49: and we just did a survey a couple of months ago in  the US and in some of the big European countries,  

00:25:56: Germany, Spain, France and the UK. And generally  there is some awareness, but it's quite different  

00:26:03: from country to country. And what I found  very interesting was that the UK was the most  

00:26:08: critical of AI, whereas Germany, the US and,  surprisingly to me, Spain were very open. But  

00:26:15: of course we still have a lot to learn. But I'm  really curious when we do the same survey again,  

00:26:19: maybe in a year's time, what the result will  be and how the business will evolve. I mean,  

00:26:23: you mentioned journalism, but it will affect  basically every business you can think of.  

00:26:27: Absolutely, I mean AI is going to affect everybody  and it's more about understanding how you can use  

00:26:32: it to your advantage. How can it teach you to do  new things? How can you use it to get more out of  

00:26:39: what you're doing? How can you look at the job you  have now and optimise it, whatever it is, using  

00:26:45: AI. It's about recognising that it's a tool that  you can use and not, you know, this omnipotent  

00:26:52: being that's going to be, you know, sentient and  take over your role, because I think it's really  

00:27:00: just about, as the technology develops, it's about  how we use it. And I think that as a society this  

00:27:09: is such a powerful tool that we're struggling to  imagine how it can be used to our advantage. This  

00:27:17: is one of the first times in a long time that  our creative minds are saying, well, how can we  

00:27:23: use this? I mean the possibilities are limitless  and when things are limitless how do you decide.  

00:27:28: That's the state that I think society is in and I  think it's exciting. Finally, another technology  

00:27:36: that you mentioned that I didn't have on my  radar at all is something called Web 5. I mean,  

00:27:40: I know Web 1 was the classic web, Web 2 was  the social web, Web 3 started with blockchain,  

00:27:46: but what does Web 5 stand for and how can it  improve the freedom, liberty and openness of  

00:27:52: the internet. Web 5 is Web 2 plus Web 3. Because  you sort of think, well, we're on Web 5, what  

00:28:01: happened to Web 4? But it's Web 3, which involves  blockchain, this hopeful idea of going back to the  

00:28:10: original concept of the internet, where everyone  has autonomy over their data, where everyone has  

00:28:16: ownership over who they are online and their  digital presence, all validated by blockchain,  

00:28:23: combined with Web 2, which is what we have now,  where we've given away all of our convenience,  

00:28:29: we've given away all of our data because we wanted  things to be convenient. It's this combination  

00:28:35: of Web 2 plus Web 3 equals Web 5. I love the  idea, but we're still at the beginning. I mean,  

00:28:43: most people haven't heard of it, of course,  because it's almost new. I was worried it  

00:28:48: was going to be a buzzword, but really I think  the idea is solid. I'm filling in the blanks,  

00:28:55: but it's an interesting concept. I think an  important aspect of it is also decentralisation,  

00:29:00: if I understood it correctly. And of course on  the one hand you have things like blockchain,  

00:29:05: but I wonder if services like the Fediverse  also fit into this concept. In Europe, Mastodon  

00:29:10: is a big thing, and the latest big thing in terms  of social media platforms was of course Threads,  

00:29:15: the new platform from Meta. And they've announced  that they're going to open it up to the Fediverse,  

00:29:20: to the ActivityPub protocol. Even some of the big  players are moving in that direction. Absolutely,  

00:29:26: I mean we have to change the way the internet is  now because it is broken. Like, as it's evolved,  

00:29:34: we didn't expect it to be the thing that it's  become, and we don't have individual autonomy over  

00:29:39: our data. And that's important because governments  and tech companies haven't worked together in a  

00:29:46: harmonious way. Each tech company is too fast,  the governments are too slow, and the internet  

00:29:51: is caught in the middle, not being what the  population really needs. I think you're right, you  

00:29:59: know, this concept of decentralisation, ownership  of identity and convenience, right, are going to  

00:30:07: come together in Web 5. And we're starting to see  those concepts develop now. Governments are slow,  

00:30:14: but nevertheless we've seen a lot of new  regulation in the last two or three years,  

00:30:18: particularly here in the EU. If you  think about the Data Act, the Digital  

00:30:22: Markets Act, the Digital Services Act, the  NIS2 initiative, just recently the AI Act  

00:30:30: that's being discussed. How do you see these legal  processes and these new laws? They're necessary  

00:30:36: and sometimes they feel a bit too little,  too late. I mean, but the AI Act for Europe,  

00:30:43: a continent that I feel is moving very slowly,  looks good. But where I think a lot of these  

00:30:51: laws need to be strengthened is the involvement of  tech companies. I think that neither side can do  

00:30:59: it alone and we need them to come together and  be much more interactive. I feel like the way  

00:31:07: that lobbying for regulation happens, the way that  tech companies are half a step ahead of everybody,  

00:31:13: all the time, you know, they take advantage of  the consumer a lot, most of the time. This is  

00:31:22: the thing where we need the tech companies to  get on board and start leading, whereas at the  

00:31:27: moment they're just leading for their profits  and their shareholders. And the concept of  

00:31:34: how tech companies work and how governments have  personal freedoms and how society should evolve,  

00:31:42: at its core, hopefully in an idealistic world,  we need those things to come together. And  

00:31:47: that's the piece that I think is starting to  happen, but really needs to happen a lot faster  

00:31:54: and a lot more meaningfully. You started working  on this project with quite a sceptical attitude,  

00:32:00: otherwise you wouldn't have done it. Now you've  talked to a lot of experts, you've really delved  

00:32:05: into the subject. How optimistic or pessimistic  are you after all this work? I have to admit,  

00:32:10: 50/50. Part of me is really excited about the  potential of the internet, how things are going  

00:32:19: to evolve in a more meaningful way for people,  like the potential of AI to impact people's lives,  

00:32:26: to teach things, to guide us. The power of all  these things that used to be too difficult are now  

00:32:35: at our fingertips, like the human potential that  can be unleashed with AI and how the internet is  

00:32:42: evolving is exciting. But we have to choose.  People have to choose not to be addicted to  

00:32:49: scrolling. People have to choose that instead of  scrolling, they're going to learn and engage with  

00:32:54: what we have in a different way. And that was  the part that I struggled with towards the end.  

00:33:01: I mean, how do we get people out of their phone  addiction. I asked many people and nobody really  

00:33:10: gave me an answer that I was super happy with.  And that's the part where I'm a bit sceptical,  

00:33:17: because you can give somebody a perfect  thing, but they have to choose to accept  

00:33:23: it. But I think that's the most beautiful thing,  is that we are human and we have a choice. That  

00:33:30: in itself always gives me hope. I hope that a lot  of people will watch the documentary. We will put  

00:33:37: all the links in our show notes. And with that,  thank you very much, Nicole, for taking the time,  

00:33:43: and maybe we'll meet again in a year's time to  see how internet freedom has evolved. Absolutely,  

00:33:49: I mean, hopefully for the better. [Music] Goodal democracy,  

00:33:57: [Music] 

00:34:00: [Music] See you next time [Music].