This is quite the analysis of how the internet has evolved from a potential utopia to a government surveillance tool:
This blended universe is a strange place, simultaneously wonderful and terrifying. It provides its users – ordinary citizens – with services, delights and opportunities that were once the prerogative only of the rich and powerful. Wikipedia, the greatest store of knowledge the world has ever seen, is available at the click of a mouse. Google has become the memory prosthesis for humanity. Services such as Skype and FaceTime shrink intercontinental distances for families and lovers. And so on.
But at the same time, everything we do on the network is monitored and surveilled by both governments and the huge corporations that now dominate cyberspace. (If you want to see the commercial side of this in action, install Ghostery in your browser and see who’s snooping on you as you surf.) Internet users are assailed by spam, phishing, malware, fraud and identity theft. Corporate and government databases are routinely hacked and huge troves of personal data, credit card and bank account details are stolen and offered for sale in the shadows of the so-called “dark web”. Companies – and public institutions such as hospitals – are increasingly blackmailed by ransomware attacks, which make their essential IT systems unusable unless they pay a ransom. Cybercrime has already reached alarming levels and, because it largely goes unpunished, will continue to grow – which is why in some societies old-style physical crime is reducing as practitioners move to the much safer and more lucrative online variety.