Karlheinz Brandenburg: I’ve been one of the main contributors to a technology I assume you are using as well called MP3. And AAC. So in fact my PhD work was on audio coding, and then together with a lot of other people (so there are more to be named) we worked on audio coding, standardization, and the business models to make it be applicable in all kinds of computers, devices, and so on.
Intertitle: Describe one of the breakthrough moments of the Internet in which you have been a key participant?
Brandenburg: Since we are here in Hong Kong, I remember a day quite some time ago—I think it must have been 2001 or so, when I was here for a conference and I looked at the display of one of these electronics shops and I saw thirty different brands of MP3 players. So I said okay, finally we got the breakthrough, now everybody uses it.
Intertitle: Describe the state of the Internet today with a weather analogy and explain why.
Brandenburg: I think we are in stormy times. Yes, lots of changes. In earlier days, we thought the Internet, by the way it’s brought up is not controllable. Now we see more and more governments try to control the Internet. We’ve got means nowadays to dig into the data, do deep packet inspection, to see what is transmitted over the Internet and so on. And on the other hand, it’s good weather in the sense that the Internet is the main way of communication for people all over the world.
Intertitle: What are your greatest hopes and fears for the future of the Internet?
Brandenburg: In fact, my concern is around all the issues with security on one hand. People use the Internet to plant malware, to get data they shouldn’t. About privacy. Are we still allowed to be private in the sense that we don’t give everything to all the ones who could use the data, whether it’s governments or companies? So those are major issues for the future.
On the other hand, I think the role of the Internet as really the main way people are communicating, whether it’s with social networks or just over the phone using OTT services, it’s really now at its peak—or let’s say it’s the main way of communication for a lot of people these days.
Intertitle: What action should be taken to ensure the best possible future?
Brandenburg: We are now entering a time where uncontrolled growth really will not help us to solve the problems of the future. So in some way, we need legislation to come in to ensure privacy, or to ensure the right to access information and so on. So that’s in some sense a contradiction, because the Internet got big because of no control, but some of this needs to be done. On the other hand it needs to be done essentially to keep the authorities from getting free information, for example.