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Internet Limits Concern Head Of Mozilla Project

January 27, 2010

The leader of the Mozilla Project, which now has more than 350 million people using its Firefox Web browser, is concerned that Internet expansion would be limited based on newer regulations and restrictions, reports the Associated Press.

Mitchell Baker said that new rules and regulations, especially those surrounding content, would make it hard to operate an open network. “You suddenly become liable for anything that gets downloaded, whether it’s legal or not,” she said.

This kind of disruption will definitely have some long-term effects, she added, while speaking at an opening panel during the Digital-Life-Design (DLD) conference, co-chaired by German Hubert Burda of Hubert Burda Media, and investor Yossi Vardi, who co-pioneered instant messaging, earlier this week.

Co-founder of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom, is advising successful companies to not be complacent and to continue to strive to make improvements and not be afraid of “disrupting themselves.”

Members of the conference panel discussed whether or not Skype’s effort to set minimal charges for phone calls around the world would lead the way for other such companies to do the same. J.P. Rangaswami, chief scientist of the BT Group in Britain, offered: “I think those parts of the industry that don’t follow what Niklas is doing will either find themselves out of a job or working for him.”

Entrepreneur Jimmy Wales, whose nonprofit company founded the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, said it was a “very bad business” to compete against because reference material is offered to the public for free. Advertising on the site is non-existent, but Wales says there could be some (ads) in the future to raise money for the charity.
Despite having millions and millions of users, Vardi was amazed that many Internet companies operated with minimal staff. Skype’s staff numbers around 600 employees, while Mozilla has only 250, and Wikipedia only 30.

Baker advised anyone or any company looking for a huge user base to avoid use of software, and instead use “Web sites and services.”

Wales added that having a “very pure, simple vision that everyone can understand immediately” is key to getting users.

In the past 20 years, the Web has made people more willing to form partnerships and work together, and to emphasize the importance of online data. “It’s through that that people can do things,” Rangaswami told The Associated Press.

In a video presentation, Yves Daccord, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said that Twitter and other social media outlets have been very important in organizing a response to the tragedy in Haiti. In the future, we can expect victims of disasters to use social media more effectively to communicate their needs. The social media outlets could be key to getting humanitarian organizations to deliver better services and reunite victims with their families.

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