Here’s how we’ll measure Internet health

The Internet is a wonderful, weird, diverse ecosystem with many different voices, perspectives and motivations interacting daily, and it changes over time. With so many touch points, there are a million different things we could measure to track progress and setbacks toward a healthier Internet, including technical infrastructure, privacy laws, online harassment, disinformation, activism, and education.

But for Mozilla’s Internet Health Report, we can only choose a handful.

Based on your feedback during the discussion process, we have narrowed down the  suggestions to a list of almost 30 topics that offer a rounded overview across our five issues. For now, we know that these are the topics we will return to every year (in addition to timely annual highlights):

Openness

  • Intellectual property (copyright, creative commons, others)
  • Censorship/shutdowns/surveillance
  • Open data initiatives
  • Free and open source software
  • Internet governance

 

Digital inclusion

  • Number of connected people worldwide
  • Bandwidth and speed
  • Affordability of Internet
  • Gender and accessibility
  • Language diversity
  • Safety and harassment

 

Decentralization

  • Net neutrality laws worldwide (strength and number)
  • Internet infrastructure progress and setbacks
  • New decentralized technologies (eg. blockchain, DAOs, coins, services, applications)
  • Resilience of the Internet
  • Market share of the biggest Internet companies
  • Internet sustainability/environmental impact

 

Privacy and Security

  • Technical measurements and solutions
  • Data breaches and security vulnerabilities
  • Public opinion and engagement
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Legislation related to privacy

 

Web Literacy

  • International education standards
  • Web literacy skills related to Internet newcomers
  • Web literacy skills related to technological shifts/content creation vs consumption
  • Web literacy of youth and children
  • Tools and activities for active learning

 

While arriving at this list, it was critical for us to determine if:

  1. a topic area is worthy of measurement,
  2. it’s actually possible to measure, and
  3. reliable data sources exist.

 

A number of the issues people feel most strongly about – like disinformation or hate speech – are difficult to measure, even more so across multiple countries and Web platforms. Nonetheless, these issues do impact Internet health, and we’ll need to think creatively about qualitative sources, and how to weave these topics into our focus areas.

An open, collaborative approach

The “open source” part of this initiative invites a broad community to help develop ideas. Many thanks to the more than 800 individuals who have already participated in our discussion process, with suggestions for new indicators and ideas for sources.

We are also exploring organizational collaborations, and how to compile existing research into an annual overview that tells an engaging story about the health of the Internet. We have begun speaking to people and organizations involved in relevant research, including The Web Foundation, ICT Africa, AccessNow, Creative Commons, Ranking Digital Rights, M-Lab and many more, and hope to be working together openly on sharing data in the report.

Over the next weeks we will decide exactly what data already exists to illuminate the the topics listed above, and whether we need original research, too.

As we refine the questions we will be asking as well as the sources we will use, our open call to you is to keep sharing links to relevant research with us, contact us if you would like to be more involved in the process, and stay tuned to this blog for news about next steps.

13 responses to “Here’s how we’ll measure Internet health

  1. Political correctness is censorship. Political correctness hides its true agenda. Healthy communication allows good and bad and trusts people to decide, a necessity for true democracy. Let us keep Internet neutral.

  2. More regulation & responsibility for big players like FB et al using the ‘we are just a platform’ cop out….treat them like utilities; tax them more on their vast profits; think about an ‘anti-trust’ approach to them to help end their monopolistic practices and open up more opportunity for smaller innovators & developers.

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