Regulation never solves problems. It's illegal to murder & steal, yet... it happens. Why not look at ways to make privacy strong, or ways to poison data collection & make it useless? Those would probably work a lot better.
The more I've been thinking about this, the more I'm convinced the solution isn't to be found on decentralization, regulation, or pretty much anything else bolted onto the Internet after the fact. It wasn't designed to work that way. And those who benefit the most from abusing it will not relinquish the advantage they hold - either willingly or unwillingly. As long as the web exists (as it is currently engineered) the problem will remain. The genie is out of its bottle. And there is no way - either through software or social engineering - that it can be put back.
So...what to do...
I personally have come to think that the only
way we're going to get out from under this is if we voluntarily walk away from it. If we just stop using the web. Refuse
to use it even. That means giving up a lot of free entertainment, downloads of software, books, music and movies, and petabytes of porn. It means abandoning hours of pointless chatter spent on Twitter. It means giving up the convenience
(often portrayed as the necessity) of online banking and shopping. It means losing the ability to easily hook up with friends and family on Facebook.
But until people are willing to do that, the web will endure in its present incarnation. And that will pave the way for a future I'd rather not contemplate more than I already have.
So rather than try to fix something that has a fundamental flaw (or benefit
depending upon how you look at it) we need to engineer a network from the ground up that is designed to be inherently secure, anonymous, and private. And once it is engineered, we will have to implement it. Most likely over the objections and active opposition (dare I say dead bodies?) of those who would prefer to keep things just the way they are.
such a global network can be built (questionable, although the only real way to find out for sure is to try) we'll also need to abandon the hope it will be perfect. In any system, there will always be abusers. And anonymity and complete security can be used for both good and ill. So part of the price we'll have pay for having our own communications and activities kept secure is having other's communications and activities similarly protected. Even those of people who would do us harm, and use this more secure network to accomplish it. There's no easy trade-off on this front.
In the end it all depends on what most people want. If they're willing to be bought off by convenience, free entertainment, and the easy opportunity for sexual titillation, things will remain the same. And the price tag will continue to become increasingly expensive in the social and moral sense. Because the inevitable slide into a true "surveillance society" will command the highest price tag of all from us. The surveillance state will totally redefine our legal framework, social mores, and personal attitudes - in such a deeply fundamental fashion that everything that came before becomes effectively moot. Because the basic understanding of what it means to be a 'human' living in 'human society' will have been redefined in the process as well.
After much long and careful consideration I've become fearful that the lowest common denominator will ultimately win out.
But that's me. A "KSC" if there ever was one. The Internet With a Human Face