The Internet Is Not the Enemy
Andrew Sullivan 安德鲁·沙利文
We live in an age of wonder in which half the world now has access to a technology – the internet – that supports people's health and education， can be a lifeline in a time of disaster or disease， and was designed to be open to everyone but owned by no one. And the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both its importance and its potential by forcing the world to connect remotely， contact-free， and in real time.
Unfortunately， we also live in an age of fear and suspicion. You don't even need to “doomscroll” to find claims that the internet is worse than any previous pestilence or war. The internet is the scapegoat for many of today's problems， including terrorism， child abuse， and even the end of democracy.
But think about it. To believe， for example， that fake news is somehow the internet's fault is to forget the state propaganda machines perfected in the twentieth century. Likewise， excessive wealth concentration and overly powerful monopolies are not products of the digital age; once upon a time， there were firms like US Steel， Standard Oil， and the British and Dutch East India companies. Some even hold the internet responsible for the decline of civic values and even civility， as though lying politicians and incendiary speech were not possible before Twitter.
We are now in a period of social change that is unquestionably attributable in part to the rise of the internet， because the tool has created new opportunities.
Some of those opportunities are socially valuable: people can now communicate easily and cheaply with friends or family far away. Some of them are socially harmful: scammers are almost certain to make money. And some are socially ambiguous: traditional authorities and gatekeepers are losing influence because people have more channels and ways to access information.
The internet is an ecosystem that we need to protect. When considering possible regulations， the best way forward is to undertake an Internet Impact Assessment， much like how we conduct environmental or traffic assessments before deciding whether to build new infrastructure. The evaluation can determine whether a given action will benefit or harm the internet's underlying health.
Above all， we need to ensure that the internet is not made a scapegoat for problems caused by the legal， economic， and political systems where it is used. The internet must remain a tool for all of us. That means protecting it as we would any precious resource.