Theresa May’s internet regulations will be ineffective: experts

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has recently been pushing for even greater regulatory powers over the internet, regulations that, according to experts, will be ineffective. The powers that May is looking for would allow the government to restrict what can be published online, and would require internet providers to weaken encryption so that the government can read people’s messages.

May, and the Conservative party more broadly, have had a bit of a hard on for internet regulation of late, seeming to believe that it will give them a simple fix to extremism and other nefarious deeds. In November, the Investigatory Powers Act (known by many as the Snooper’s Charter) passed and gave the government the legal tools to observe their citizens in a manner unmatched anywhere in western Europe, or even the US. Following the latest attack in London, Theresa May believes we now need to go further.

“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed,” May said. “Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.”

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning,” she continued. “We need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.”

Theresa May, UK Prime Minister. Image courtesy of Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com

The issue with this line of thinking, aside from the hideous invasion of privacy and horrifyingly vague language that would leave it wide open to misuse, is that experts have said such regulation won’t work. As a matter of fact, the plan put forward by the prime minister could in fact serve to make the internet a more dangerous place.

“There is no proven record showing that internet restriction could prevent any sinister plots from happening,” said NordVPN’s CMO, Marty P Kamden. “If a backdoor to the internet is built, it can actually be used by the same people that the government wants to keep track of. A backdoor gives away a lot of private information about each citizen, and puts big power in the hands of anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

“The essence of the internet is to be a free space – it was not built to have regulation, censorship or administrators.”

British citizens are already subject to some of the most extreme surveillance in the western world. Images courtesy of Transport for London

VPN provider NordVPN has seen a 300% increase in British user inquiries since the Investigatory Powers Act passed and that number is likely to increase if Mrs May gets her way. While the concern is understandable, the fact seems to remain that this policy is not only morally untenable but highly questionable in its efficiency. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, possibly put the argument best when addressing David Cameron’s first forays towards regulation in 2015.

“What I’m opposed to is to have zero privacy and scan everyone’s data all the time in case we see something,” he added.

“Human rights don’t go away just because you’re on the internet. We still have rights that governments need to respect.”

The kitchen of the future will be hyper-connected, sustainable and multi-functional

The kitchen of the future will be a connected, multi-functional space that is radically different to the separate room of old, according a report released by the Silestone Institute.

Entitled ‘Global Kitchen: the home kitchen in the era of globalisation’, the report draws on knowledge from 17 distinguished experts from the worlds of design, cooking, domestic technology, sociology, nutrition and sustainability, as well as surveying over 800 kitchen studios across the world, to provide a view of what the kitchen of the future is likely to look like.

“Global Kitchen is an international project providing valuable insights into the kitchen of the future and aims to become an essential reference tool for professionals and consumers,” explained Santiago Alfonso, marketing vice president for the Cosentino Group, which the Silestone Institute is part of. “It creates the opportunity for multidisciplinary reflection to analyse the effect of globalisation on kitchen architecture and design, to determine how this space will develop over the next 25 years.”

Among the items the report predicts will be in the kitchens of the future are hydroponic crops to provide food with the shortest possible distance from ‘farm’ to plate; 3D food printers that would allow users to download and ‘print’ recipes; adjustable-height worktops embedded with digital surfaces and smart fridges complete with the ever-predicted smart screens.

The kitchen of the future as envisioned in the report: click to view full-size

Perhaps one of the primary insights drawn from the report is the changing role that the kitchen will play in the home. Rather than being an independent space used almost solely for cooking, it is expected that the kitchen will develop into a multi-functional space in all countries.

The kitchen as an independent room is predicted to disappear and considerations of emotional value will begin to be incorporated into the design as it further develops as a space for relaxing. Of the 842 kitchen professionals surveyed, 87% said that the kitchen would become more relevant as an activity and meeting place in the house.

Enabling this shifting role will largely rely on the development of the kitchen as a ‘smart’ room; hyper-connected and technologically advanced. In order to cement its new position as the centre of the home, the kitchen will begin to take connectivity and smart appliances into account with “mobile and wearable devices, and will not only make shopping and laundry easier, but ensure endless access to information from the Internet of Things.”

Smart appliances are likely to also make their presence felt, with worktops able to cook, make calls, broadcast TV and provide access to the Internet. And in case you wanted to cut down on the amount of shelf space being taken up by cooking books, these smart worktops may contain databases of recipes where chefs can guide you through the process.

Hydroponic plants, smart fridges, 3D food printers and digital worktops are among the technologies predicted to be common in the kitchens of the future. Images courtesy of Consento Group

Appliances are also likely to become more environmentally friendly, coming to rely on sustainable energy. According to the report, they are likely to be solar powered and will “be aligned with ‘Multi- R’ thinking – Rethink, Redesign, Repair, Reuse, Remanufacture, Recover.”

And speaking of light, Silestone predicts that your kitchen will be illuminated by smart lighting that varies according to the time of day, mood or even (somehow) the type of food being cooked.

Largely, the report is perhaps not all that surprising in its findings. Kitchens, and the appliances within them, have been getting smarter for a while so the next stages raised in the report seem like logical steps. It is maybe more relevant to consider the changing role of the kitchen in the home, and what this could mean for homes more broadly.