20 years of internet driving license: Not everyone is allowed to use the web – luckily!

Fake news, conspiracy theories, hate comments, online fraud – it was foreseeable that access to the Internet would have to be restricted in order to protect us from ourselves. Then the internet driver’s license came and stopped free access to information and communication. Has it made our lives better?

Why do we need an internet driver’s license?

We all still remember them Dark years 2016 to 2021. False information in election campaigns, conspiracy theories about the corona virus and unfiltered hatred in social networks have deeply divided our society. Politicians, celebrities, the media and self-proclaimed self-thinkers used Facebook, Twitter or Telegram to spread their interpretation of reality. And no matter how absurd they were, the tech companies helped like fire accelerators that even the most absurd opinions could inflame a wide audience.

Too many people fell for what was on the Internet, because: it was on the Internet. The so-called own research ™ broke families and friendships, fueled hatred and violence. And ultimately, thousands of people literally fell victim to false information about the coronavirus, for example.

The solution (also called censorship or opinion dictatorship by some) came in 2022. Now, in 2042, let’s look back 20 years of internet driving license. Has he made our world better again?

Future theme week at GIGAYes, this is a post about the year 2042. No, you haven’t made a journey through time. This contribution belongs to the theme week “The Future in 2042” on GIGA, in which we will turn our millennium by 21 years and show you what the tech and gaming world could look like in 2042.

You can find all contributions from this topic week in our special on the year 2042.

People on the Internet: Too dangerous for yourself and others

The idea was as simple as it was controversial: anyone who wants to use online services or apps to obtain information or to communicate with others has to prove that they can handle them. Like in road traffic. Anyone who wants to drive a car there has to learn and prove that they are not endangering themselves or others. The solution: an internet driver’s license.

An unprecedented alliance of government regulators, companies like Google and Apple and network operators like Telekom and Vodafone quickly developed a suitable app. Similar to the Corona app saves a proof on the smartphone that the user is allowed to move freely on the internet.

What else could have happened in 2042, we show you in the special edition of our GIGA headlines:

How does the restricted internet access work?

This function was later even integrated directly into the smartphone systems iOS and Android. When you visit a website or app, it automatically generates one-time access, which you can authenticate using a PIN, fingerprint or facial scan. Other devices like the Activate your PC, TV or console for internet use.

So that the whole thing does not become one gigantic surveillance apparatus degenerates, the personal data always remains on the device. The website or app operator only receives the information that the visitor has a valid internet pass. Admittedly, the system was never complete – some even rented themselves and their Internet passport to smuggle others into the network – but close-knit enough to contain the grossest nonsense.

What do you have to be able to do for the Internet Pass?

The introduction began with a cross-border awareness campaign that will get all citizens fit in the years from 2022. Above all, those citizens should be trained who did not grow up with the Internet and who too often were victims of disinformation. The internet exam was also compulsory at all schools introduced to educate children and adolescents as much as possible before they are allowed to use the internet for the first time.

With the nationwide start, the municipalities set up large and small test centers, as in Corona times, in which everyone could take the test under supervision. Here is a little one Selection of test itemsthat have always been modified to minimize scams:

  • assess the reliability of information sources
  • Identify logic flaws in conspiracy theories
  • Distinguish deep fakes from real pictures / videos
  • Detect phishing emails
  • respond correctly to warnings from the security software
  • Correctly reflect netiquette rules

3 times 3 strikes: Internet sinners face these penalties

So that this Internet passport does not degenerate into a toothless tiger, penalties have also been set. Anyone who violates the rules, i.e. disseminates false information or insults other people, will be punished in several stages. After three offenses you get the first penalty – 30 days restricted access (Email, news sites yes; social networks, messengers, comments, streaming / gaming services no).

After three further offenses, a 30-day complete ban follows. After three further offenses one Fine plus a 90-day banwhich can only be reversed with additional training and a more stringent test. 3 × 3 strikes is this principle.

Worldwide protests: Not everyone accepted the restriction of Internet access favorably. Image: GettyImages / Tero Vesalainen

Revolt of the high, lateral, forward and self-thinkers

To the surprise of absolutely no one, none of this resulted in one Uprising that redefined the term shitstorm. A broad front from desperate housewives to internet activists and 4chan trolls raged for weeks on the streets and in the (until then still free) internet – one last monstrous cast of nastiness against everyone involved, which once again reminded everyone why we were doing this in the first place Had to go away.

As big as the outcry, so big was the surprise that most people quickly accepted the Internet passport. For many, nothing changed in the end, except for one additional click. On the contrary: Many were happyto finally get support and to deal more confidently with what they encounter on the Internet.

And when the internet trolls realized that their actions actually have consequences, most of them became very tame very quickly. Trolling others without punishment may be fun. To go without Netflix and everything else for 30 days or more was too high a price for many.

The big sobering up: all’s well that ends?

What seemed unthinkable in 2021 is actually real in 2042: Screaming and mobbing online have become much quieter and less frequent, people are actually listening to each other again. The trolls have crawled into small, dark corners of the web and remain largely to themselves. Like after an epic night of partying people gradually woke up with a bad hangover, marveled at the chaos and then went to work together to clean up and rebuild what had been destroyed.

Platforms like Instagram, Telegram or Reddit, which repeatedly showed toxic behavior, were first regulated, then replaced by new social platforms, virtual meeting rooms and reliably moderated forums. Researchers called these years the Great Disenchantment, others simply called it boring. But as is so often the case, people quickly got used to the new normal.

And Facebook? As the biggest beneficiary of the waves of hate and trolls, the group lost large parts of its core business, from which it finally withdrew completely due to a lack of profits. After all, Zuckerberg benefited from the boom in VR games around the year 2030. Today, Facebook is at least still known to die-hard VR gamers, especially through its adventurously designed VR helmet, the FaceHugger. But that’s a story for another day.