The father of the internet in Australia says the tech sector's hold on our personal data has turned the web into the Wild West.
Australia Day honouree Geoffrey Huston said a tougher regulator was needed and Australians should be more sensitive about their online data.
Mr Huston said while the internet was once all about networking, it is now a place where "content is king" and big tech companies - such as Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon and networking company Akamai - sink their "fangs" into personal data.
He has been made a member (AM) in the general division of the Order of Australia for his pioneering work in bringing the net to Australia in the late 1980s.
"I think I'm the guy who brought the internet to Australia 30 years ago," Mr Huston said.
"The Americans were charging ahead with a totally new way of making computers talk to each other. And there was a certain amount of rumbling inside the university sector in Australia that we wanted one too."
Mr Huston said Australians being connected to the internet had the "inevitability of a brick falling from the 30th floor".
"It (was always) gonna hit the ground. I may have hastened it a bit, I may have got us slightly better organised," he said.
After helping connect Australia's universities so they could quickly share research, he moved to Telstra in 1995 to help it get consumers online.
Now Mr Huston is the chief scientist at the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre, which seeks to understand the future of the internet.
Australia needs to move towards implementing data protection laws similar to those in the European Union, Mr Huston said.
Our personal data has turned the internet into the Wild West, he said, with the communications and consumer watchdogs not powerful enough to police them.
"If you want a perverted future, leave the incumbents to write the rules."
Australian Associated Press