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Open-Xchange 2018 Predictions: Why Open Source holds the key to the Internet of the Future

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Rafael Laguna, CEO at Open-Xchange

Why Open Source holds the key to the Internet of the Future

The internet in its current state is fundamentally broken. The proprietary business models adopted by big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon have created billion dollar industries fundamentally based on the mass collection of consumer data in return for ad revenue. Although 80% of Internet users believe privacy is a fundamental right, this system highlights how privacy is no longer a human right, but has instead been turned into a commodity. The filter algorithms created by these monopolies seem to have influenced the outcomes of elections, undermining democracy.

This situation needs to be fixed so that the internet can effectively scale to meet the challenges of the future without forcing users to sacrifice their privacy, freedom, democracy or security.  The only way I can see that this can be done effectively is if we all work to foster an open source approach, which the Internet is originally built from. The adoption of open source platforms and infrastructure is a crucial step for those companies and governments looking to restore some much needed sovereignty, trust and openness.

One of the key benefits of using open source software is that it acts as a powerful and effective security measure. Open source software helps to improve software security by virtue of source code transparency, and the extra pairs of eyes (or thousands) available to spot its flaws or unexpected activities. Most open source projects have contributors from widely different backgrounds with a range of complementary skills. In addition, open API's let customers build their own applications using information from your services, further cementing their loyalty.

It is naturally important to remember that no security measure is a silver bullet, especially if we take into consideration the recent failure of Heartbleed where an open-source programming blunder enabled attackers to pull down 64k chunks of "secure" server memory. However, the key benefit here is that vulnerabilities can be spotted and fixed by anyone that uses the software, as was the case with Heartbleed.

The sharing of open data is another crucial element that increases the effectiveness of open-source technology. Making data available from many disparate sources can help foster innovative, federated services, linking information together from different online sources, further improving the user experience.

The first step to addressing this problem has to be at the essential level of funding. Existing funding models put data-monetisation at the core of their strategy. Venture capital and targeted advertising revenue depend on the aggressive harvesting and sale of data. New advertising models can build on open and secure systems to monetise advertising at less specific levels than the likes of Google and Facebook currently offer. This would be via effective but generic data profiles, rather than personally identifiable information, which creates complicated privacy and security problem.

This is in-line with the shift in consumer's attitude towards the safety of their data.  Recent research viewing the habits of children and teenage online carried out by Mediacom found that 49% of 8-12-year-old respondents reported being concerned about the information that advertisers collect on them. This figure was 47% for the 13-16 age bracket and 54% of 17-19 year olds. The research shows that digitally-savvy young consumers are highly suspicious of the advertising industry. They won't stand idly by as it harvests their data for profit.

So where does this leave us for 2018? We predict that there will be an increased clamour for transparency and openness among consumers and technology providers will have to work harder to earn the trust of users.  This will reveal a greater need for open source technology than ever before.

There is a great opportunity for publishers, telcos, hosters and Internet Service Providers to explore how they can add value through security and privacy measures, improving their customer experience. Failure to innovate here leaves the door wide open for digital services giants to dominate the market in 2018 and beyond.

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About the Author

Rafael Laguna 

Rafael Laguna, CEO at Open-Xchange

Rafael has been building software companies for 25 years. Under his guidance, Open Xchange leads the fight to keep the digital landscape open, secure and transparent for all. He grew up in East-Germany, so he's well aware of the risks of government surveillance.

Published Friday, December 01, 2017 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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