A reflection on Mobile World Congress: the dangers of “Mobile is Everywhere”

A reflection on Mobile World Congress: the dangers of “Mobile is Everywhere”
2 March, 2016 Christian Berg
In NetClean Labs

A reflection on Mobile World Congress: the dangers of “Mobile is Everywhere”

Our generation lives and breathes in a world of digital connections. Most of us own more than one mobile device, and are spending more and more time on our smartphone, tablet or laptop for work or personal use. In fact, it has recently been reported that Britons now touch their phones every four minutes throughout the day. It is therefore fitting that the theme of this year’s Mobile World Congresswould be “Mobile is Everywhere.”

Data storage, once a huge barrier for image and video sharing, is now much more accessible. More data can be stored in less physical space. Cheaper (and free) cloud services also ease the pain of transferring large data files. Incredible performance and huge storage space simply make way for better collaboration efforts.

Businesses will also reap the rewards, with flexible working. Employees can work anywhere – in the office, at a café, at home, or even in the forest! With 3D developments coming into play – though at present, largely in entertainment and gaming following the launch of Facebook Oculus Rift and Samsung virtual roller coaster ride – the technology will become mainstream and eventually consumerised into the workplace.

All of these innovations, combined with faster 5G connection, is spurring the growth of the Internet of Things. Connected devices are here to stay and we can only expect to see better, faster, smarter technologies in the years to come.

Blurred lines between digital and physical worlds

While technology developments continue to advance, attitudes and appreciation towards connected devices vary significantly between generations.

Swedish TV personality, Alexander Bard, recently said that the “older” generations much prefer an in-person meeting over virtual gathering. Whereas younger people find the digital world much more engaging and familiar.

At the #skillnadpåriktigt Stockholm event in September last year, criminologist Maria Dufva spoke about the dilemma that when parents tell their children to stop playing on the Internet, they do not understand that the digital world is just as real as the physical world for these young minds.

Digital innovations mean that we can work and play anywhere, any time. We consume more information, images and videos than ever before. Through connected devices, we are only a few taps away to a whole breadth of services, applications and data storage. I am really looking forward to this next step in the evolution of the Internet. It will be fantastic to see what new opportunities it will bring us.

The downside of a connected world

No one really knows the full applications for 5G, but one thing is certain, it will also be used for darker purposes. Unfortunately, we can be sure that criminals will take advantage of our connected technologies to prey on young children on the Internet.

Imagine how easy it would be for a paedophile to send a child a small camera with built-in Internet connection. Young children carrying these devices could be in contact with or spied on by strangers while their parents remained unaware.

Paedophiles will also get easier access to children in remote locations, for example, in the Philippines. With technology advancements and broadband access available in most parts of the world, it won’t be long before we all become truly connected at the click of a button.

Remember that children believe the virtual world is just as real as the physical world, they can easily be groomed to broadcast themselves under vulnerable circumstances. Our survey of 368 police officers already finds that more and more material is being shared via social media and many of these are produced by the children themselves.

As we continue to expand our Internet network to remote parts of the world, we are also putting more children at risk. Only through education and the effective use of detection technology solutions would we be able to keep our digital and physical worlds safe for future generations.

I’m very pleased to be working with leading companies around the world to create a safer Internet for more people, while keeping child sexual abuse materials at bay.