README

Is the internet unhealthy? We planted this question in your mind with the title of this report and in the questions we ask throughout. But you will not be getting a simple yes or no answer.

As you may have gathered, this publication is neither a country-level index nor a doomsday clock. We invite you to join us in assessing what it means for the internet to be healthy, and to participate in setting an agenda for how we can work together to create an internet that truly puts people first.

Our intention with this compilation of research, interviews and analysis (designed with input from hundreds of readers in collaboration with over 200 experts) is to show that while the worldwide consequences of getting things wrong with the internet could be huge – for peace and security, for political and individual freedoms, for human equality – the problems are never so great that nothing can be done. More people than you imagine are working to make the internet healthier, and getting things right, by applying their skills, creativity, and even personal bravery, to business, technology, activism, policy and regulation, education and community development.

This annual report is a call to action to recognize the things that are having an impact on the internet today through research and analysis, and to embrace the notion that we as humans can change how we make money, govern societies, and interact with one another online.

Part of the trouble in explaining how to make the internet ‘healthier’ is that so much goes unseen. As internet users, we tend not to think about fibre optic cables beneath the seas, or the men and women who assemble our electronic devices, let alone about the decision processes coded into “intelligent” machines. Many of us don’t even know how our favorite internet companies profit, or how our personal desires and traits are tracked as we go about our lives.

If we’re completely honest, a lot of us would probably prefer not to know. Why ruin the magic of the instant gratification we get at the push of a button, hiding all technological processes behind the scenes. The downside is that we often don’t recognize the things in need of systemic change before the dramatic news headlines assault us. We prefer to imagine that we are protected: by high tech internet companies, by governments, by other more savvy users.

We make choices all the time: about what software to use, what security risks to take, what steps to take to protect the privacy of our children and genetic relatives. As advocates for a healthier internet, let’s now make better choices. Let’s fight to change what is wrong and join with others to make things right. In reading the Internet Health Report, let’s cast a glance at the seen and unseen opportunities of the internet, and consider this rich, diverse, complex ecosystem as one that adapts to our collective actions and changes over time.

Our “spotlights” this year invite you to consider three topics that in each their way are ‘hidden in plain sight’ and deserve special attention if we are to improve the health of the internet.

Our societies and economies will soon undergo incredible transformations because of the expanding capabilities of machines to “learn” and “make decisions”. How do we begin to make tougher demands of artificial intelligence to meet our human needs above all others?

By now, you’ve surely heard that targeted advertising ads and personal data collection are at the heart of so much that is wrong with the internet. What are promising efforts to make things right?

More than half of the world’s population lives in a city now. You had better believe that officials face tough challenges (and divergent interests) when it comes to putting ideals for a healthier internet into practice. No, this is not about “smart cities”, but about the untapped power of city governments and civil society to work together to make the internet healthier worldwide.

How to explore this website?

This report is structured according to five overlapping themes that we consider a helpful framework for assessing internet health: privacy and security, openness, digital inclusion, web literacy, and decentralization, but it’s designed so you can read the articles in any order.

Whenever a story interests you, add it to your personal reading list by clicking the bookmark icon to read later or share online. In our featured reading lists, friends and co-creators of the Internet Health Report have curated lists too, with a brief note about their selections.

Since our first prototype in 2017 and in response to two public calls for participation (once in 2017 and again in 2018) we have received hundreds of emails and comments from readers. Regardless of what we asked, the comments were often written in the style of personal and thoughtful reflections about how to make the internet healthier. This year, we decided to intentionally encourage more of that kind of commenting directly as part of the report.

Beneath each article there is a prompt question. For instance, how do you make decisions about what to share about your children online? Or would you recommend your country’s approach to digital ID? There aren’t simple answers to questions like this, but hearing diverse experiences and ideas can expand anyone’s perception of the toughest issues.

To read the report offline, you can download a short (print-at-home) version with a selection of articles.

Credits

So many researchers, fellows, writers and allies of Mozilla generously contributed data and ideas alongside countless readers who participated.

See the full list of contributors below.

Solana Larsen is the editor of this report.

Kasia Odrozek is the project manager.

Jairus Khan is the outreach coordinator.

Stefan Baack is the data and research analyst.

Eeva Moore is the editorial assistant.

 

Contact us: internethealth@mozillafoundation.org

For press inquiries visit: internethealthreport.org/press

The creative studio and digital agency Rainbow Unicorn in Berlin, Germany developed the visual design and code, Christian Laesser developed the data visualizations and Julian Braun produced the 3D artwork. The entire report will be translated by Global Voices from English to French, Spanish and German (with staggered launch dates).

Full list of credits

If you believe your name is missing from this list, just let us know.

  • Katya Abazajian
  • Coraline Ada Ehmke
  • Chris Adams
  • Pablo Aguilera
  • Esra’a Al-Shafei
  • Mahsa Alimardani
  • Christopher Arnold
  • Miriam Avery
  • Renata Avila
  • Juma Baldeh
  • Juan Barajas
  • Geraldo Barros
  • Dan Bateyko
  • Jochai Ben-Avie
  • Owen Bennett
  • Cathleen Berger
  • Ellery Biddle
  • Reuben Binns
  • Mónica Bonilla
  • Marianna Breytman
  • Niels Brügger
  • Joy Buolamwini
  • Jory Burson
  • Sam Burton
  • Jen Caltrider
  • Luis Carlos Díaz
  • Irvin Chen
  • Henrik Chulu
  • Emilio Cobos Álvarez
  • Jane Coffin
  • Arliss Collins
  • Gary Cook
  • Abdoul Coulibaly
  • Norberto Cruz
  • Chris Dart
  • Kelly Davis
  • Cade De Cairos
  • Michiel de Jong
  • Selena Deckelmann
  • Deep Dream Generator
  • Amira Dhalla
  • Eduardo Diaz
  • Marianne Diaz Hernandez
  • Renée DiResta
  • Stefania Druga
  • Sam Dubberley
  • Liza Durón Plata
  • Will Easton
  • Arthur Edelstein
  • Steven Englehardt
  • Marshall Erwin
  • Ayden Ferdeline
  • Kadija Ferryman
  • Arturo Filastò
  • Liz Fong-Jones
  • Conor Fortune
  • Denise Gammal
  • Ankit Gangwal
  • Gabriela Garcia Calderon Orbe
  • Becky Gardiner
  • Ola Gasidlo
  • Babitha George
  • Brandi Geurkink
  • Gaetan Goldberg
  • Isabelle Gore
  • Kristina Gorr
  • Paolo Granata
  • Sam Gregory
  • Janet Gunter
  • Lisa Gutermuth
  • Sarah Haghdoosti
  • Andrew Hatton
  • Mél Hogan
  • Jen Horonjeff
  • Gabi Ivens
  • Joi Ito
  • Laura James
  • Frank Karlitschek
  • Jofish Kaye
  • Ephraim Kenyanito
  • Daniel Kessler
  • Alex Klepel
  • Julia Kloiber
  • Markus Koerner
  • Ioannis Kouvakas
  • Oiwan Lam
  • Rebecca Lam
  • Eireann Leverett
  • Thomas Lohninger
  • Andrew Losowsky
  • Elaine Lu
  • David Maass
  • Raegan MacDonald
  • Rebecca MacKinnon
  • Nathalie Maréchal
  • Milena Marin
  • Zannah Marsh
  • Don Marti
  • Esther Mwema
  • Ciera Martinez
  • Alan Mauldin
  • Meghan McDermott
  • Uta Meier-Hahn
  • Alan Mooiman
  • Alice Munyua
  • Selina Musuta
  • Shreyas Narayanan Kutty
  • J. Nathan Matias
  • Anna Niedhart
  • Mohamed Nanabhay
  • Michael J. Oghia
  • Daniel O'Maley
  • Jens Ohlig
  • Juan Ortiz Freuler
  • Julie Owono
  • Shernon Osepa
  • Mong Palatino
  • Abigail Phillips
  • Karolina Pietrzyk
  • Lydia Pintscher
  • Li Qiang
  • Zara Rahman
  • Lotta Rao
  • Amir Rashidi
  • Pauline Ratzé
  • Christian Reich
  • Maya Richman
  • Martin J. Riedl
  • Chris Riley
  • Elizabeth Rivera
  • Tara Robertson
  • Jon Rogers
  • Emily Rothman
  • Marcello Russo
  • Walei Sabry
  • Chad Sansing
  • Nathan Schneider
  • Max Schrems
  • Phil Sherrell
  • Kristina Shu
  • Steve Song
  • Matthias Spielkamp
  • Matt Stempeck
  • Marcel Stirner
  • Mark Surman
  • Kasia Szymielewicz
  • Mohammad Taha Khan
  • Juan Tapiador
  • Alek Tarkowski
  • Berhan Taye
  • A.R.E. Taylor
  • James Teh
  • Dhanaraj Thakur
  • Michelle Thorne
  • Katrin Tiidenberg
  • Solange Tuyisenge
  • Claire Ulrich
  • Amba Uttara Kak
  • Narseo Vallina
  • Anne van Kesteren
  • Julia Velkova
  • Kristina Verbo
  • Edoardo Viola
  • Andreas Wagner
  • Maya Wagoner
  • Regina Wai-man Chung
  • Sarah Watson
  • Heather West
  • Stephanie Ann Whited
  • Matthew Willse
  • Yvette Wohn
  • Natalie Worth
  • Cori Zarek
  • Kevin Zawacki
  • Yura Zenevich