The year 1994 is an incredibly important one in technological history. Floppy disks were all the rage (with a vast memory of 2.88 MB), the seminal FPS Doom was released, and consumer internet was unleashed upon the masses via Netscape. Well, provided you had a PC and a way to connect.
But since its humble beginnings, complete with ridiculously grating dial-up connection sounds, the internet has made huge leaps and bounds. It’s no longer a pay-per-minute service where the simplest of images would take an age to load. The internet is now a behemoth of information that captures hobbies, skills, careers, dating, and everything in between. You can access it on everything from a traditional PC tower to the phone in your pocket, and even on some refrigerators.
The internet isn’t just popular in America anymore though. 80-90% of smartphone users are now outside the USA, so we’re starting to get a feel for a truly worldwide web. It also means that America’s internet could be becoming less important.
Changing needs and mindsets
As a US creation (with beginnings in the UK and Switzerland), the America-centric view makes sense. The internet has traditionally been based around American ideals and laws, with little room for the differences between countries and continents, cultures, and constitutions. However, with more users across the planet, there is now a need for regulatory expansion, with unique laws for different jurisdictions.
The extended reach has also had interesting consequences based on region. In the EU, for example, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws came into effect in May 2018. Some US-based sites adjusted for that, while others, including lee.net, are still inaccessible across Europe even now. This steadfast refusal or inability to adjust places less importance on American sites and makes way for the advances of other regions to take their spot. It also raises the question of whether this takes away somebody’s right to access information.
TikTok, which exploded in popularity through lockdown, originated in China. This seems to have caused issues for those who aren’t used to a non-US-centric creation becoming so popular. Trump has made a huge deal about security concerns relating to TikTok and is still trying to completely ban the app from US phones or force a sale to an American company.
What will happen when the next app non-American takes phones by storm, though? Will that be blocked too? It’s becoming more and more obvious that the internet is no longer just aimed at a US audience. It’s something for the whole world to use, so it needs the whole world to agree on how to put the best foot forward.
What do you think? Do you feel like US importance when it comes to the internet is dwindling? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.