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About Internet Society

2018 Global Internet Report – Take our survey on the Future of the Internet

Last year, the Internet Society published a comprehensive study to better understand the forces of change that will shape the Internet over the next five to seven years: The 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital FutureBy focusing attention on the significant potential of the Internet for innovation and sustainable development, but without denying or shirking the challenges it also introduces, the 2017 report has become a powerful tool in the global awareness and advocacy work of the Internet Society and its chapters.

We now want to work with you as our most important stakeholders on a new report that takes a closer look at one of those forces and how it may impact the future, namely Consolidation in the Internet Economy. Understood as growing forces of concentration, vertical and horizontal integration, and fewer opportunities for market entry and competition, this topic includes the impact of consolidating forces on all stakeholders as well as on the Internet’s underlying and evolving technology.

We have selected this theme because findings from last year’s report, and developments since its release, indicated increasing concerns about a growing concentration of power in the Internet Economy. They point to market and technical forces that may be driving consolidation at different ‘layers’ of the Internet, from traffic to communications providers to applications, as well as processes of vertical integration that allows for some companies to own the user experience at every stage and in an increasingly wide range of human activity. As users experience the Internet through a smaller number of providers, for example, there is the potential to restrict our access, choice and future ability to innovate. On the other hand, consolidation is not a new phenomena, but can be expected as markets and industries mature. To some, it is an evolution foremost characterized by lower prices and better services available to more people.

Today we are launching a survey (also in French and Spanish) seeking your input on this perceived trend of consolidation. Tell us your perspective;  how it might be affecting you and your community, and what you foresee for the future of the Internet in the next five years. The survey will be open until June 29th.

Read 2018 Global Internet Report concept note and take the survey before June 29th. The survey is also available in French and Spanish. For more information about 2017 Report, please visit our Paths to Our Digital Future site.


Photo credit: Thomas Ribaud on Unsplash

Categories
Internet Governance Public Policy

The Internet Is at a Crossroads: We Have a Choice to Make

As we look around at a rapidly changing world that is shaped more and more by the digital domain, we see an Internet that faces many challenges. We see an Internet at a crossroads, where we have critical choices to make about its evolution in the years to come.

Those choices will determine whether we continue to benefit from an Internet that opens up a world of opportunity for everyone online, or whether we grow more fearful of it as a negative influence on our lives.  People’s hopes and fears about the Internet today are dividing us and its future.

The notion of hope and progress has defined our view of the Internet since its inception. Its own growth has taken it from obscure computer-to-computer connections to a social and economic powerhouse. It is the platform on which young people and an ever-growing number of women can invent their own futures. Small enterprises and communities all over the world are using digital tools to mobilize and empower themselves to access new markets, grow their economies and provide vital services to their citizens.

Of course, we must see the adoption of the Internet for what it is: a reflection of everything in society itself.

In light of growing sentiment that the Internet is fueling social and cultural divisions, there are legitimate concerns around the safety and security of life on the Internet. I discuss these themes in an article published this week as part of the launch of an edition of the Journal of Cyber Policy produced in a partnership between Chatham House and the Internet Society. To mark the occasion, we are also hosting a livestreamed panel discussion in partnership with Chatham House entitled “Do we still trust the Internet?” Here, we will explore concerns around the ‘securitization’ of the Internet, where a focus on national security and political control is usurping the notion of a “people-centric” Internet for everyone.

To solve these fundamental issues we need new models to address the challenges. My view is that the answers lie in the principles that have defined the Internet to date. These include: openness, global connectedness, trustworthiness, transparency, collaboration and inclusion. These values should remain at the forefront of the Internet and the policies that shape it.

We have already done much of the work and the thinking that puts these values at the heart of the Internet’s future. The global Internet community has called for collaborative decision-making: the multistakeholder model that has been used in the organizations and policies that built the Internet. And this is exactly the context in which much of the global Internet community will come together next week at the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva. I look forward to the gathering of this engaged and energized global community.

It is an important time to talk about how we can turn thinking into reality. We have an opportunity to explore how we can expand the collaborative decision-making model, how we can do more, say more and move beyond the confines of discussion to put the mechanisms, policies and practices in place that will shape the future of the Internet.

Above all, we can reaffirm our commitment to an Internet that is truly for everyone by making choices that take us toward opportunity, not toward fear.


Image credit: Veni Markovski on Flickr CC BY NC

Categories
IETF Technology

Watch Live – IETF 100 Plenary Panel on the Future of the Internet

What is this future of the Internet? What will the Internet look like in 30 years? On Wednesday, November 15, three prominent strategists will gaze into the future and share their unique perspectives.  This panel on “The Internet, a look forward: Social, political, and technical perspectives” is part of the IETF 100 plenary session streaming live out of Singapore. The plenary session will also include the presentation of the Jonathan B. Postel Service award.

You can watch live at:    https://www.ietf.org/live

The entire IETF 100 plenary session is from 17:10 – 19:40 Singapore time. This is UTC+8, which translates into:

  • 10:10 – 12:40 Central European Time
  • 9:10 – 11:40 UTC
  • 4:10 – 6:40 US Eastern time

IMPORTANT NOTE – The panel and the Postel Award presentation are just two sections of the IETF 100 plenary session – and happen somewhere in the middle of the session. The full agenda can be found at:  https://datatracker.ietf.org/meeting/100/materials/agenda-100-ietf-sessa/

The live video stream will be recorded if you want to watch later.

Moderated by Brian Trammell, member of the Internet Architecture Board, panelists include:

  • Monique Morrow, President and Co-Founder of the Humanized Internet, a non-profit organization focused on providing digital identity for those individuals most under-served
  • Jun Murai, Founder of WIDE Project and Professor at  Keio University with a research focus in global computer networking and communication, and known as the “Father of Japan’s Internet” or “Internet Samurai”
  • Henning Schulzrinne, Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and chair of the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University, New York

Join in to hear the panel’s perspectives and the discussion.

When you are done, you may wish to explore our Internet Society 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to our Digital Future, where we provide an analysis and perspective on different paths we see for the future of the Internet.

This discussion about the future of the Internet – happening at IETF 100, happening online, and happening in many other venues – is critical. There are many paths the Internet could take – but only some of them will benefit all of humanity.

It is up to each one of us to help shape the Internet of tomorrow.


Image credit: Michal Lomza on Unsplash

Categories
Community Projects

Reaffirming the Internet as a Force for Good: The Next 25 Years

To mark its 25th Anniversary, the Internet Society is beginning a global dialogue on the impact of the Internet on societies.  So far, we have held discussions at Chatham House in London, and opened up the dialogue in a recent public forum with more than 100 participants from 30 countries across Africa, the Middle East, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Asia.


The Internet provides unprecedented opportunities for advancing social and cultural understanding. The online environment empowers individuals to connect, speak, innovate, share, be heard, and organize. At the same time, there is an increasing awareness that the Internet’s promise as a force for good could be fundamentally undermined, if current technical and social trends – things like fake news, online harassment, radicalization and other socially objectionable behaviors – continue.

The world order is in transition. We currently live in an environment of uncertainty – some of this uncertainty is Internet specific and, other affects society at large. At this point, it is difficult for us to understand how far the Internet reflects wider societal anxieties, and how far it causes those phenomena. But for some, all these issues are part of a bigger trend steadily leading towards a societal collapse, where the Internet plays a fundamental role.

People, companies, governments and institutions all feel the depth of the change brought by the Internet. The intensity and scope of this change has triggered different types of utopian and dystopian perceptions. For instance, does the use of the Internet increase the risk of isolation, alienation and withdrawal from society or does it increase sociability, civil and political engagement in all cultures?

These are some of the very hard questions we are faced with that will require some even harder answers. And, they will only increase in the future. As the boundaries between the offline and the online world get increasingly blurred, it will become important, if not unavoidable, to take some action. Governments are currently responding to this transformation by calling for increased Internet regulation. At the same time, companies are beginning to realize their share of responsibility and they are in the process of adjusting their secret algorithms to deal with many societal challenges, be they fake news or extremism. Caught between these two actors (governments and companies), individuals can feel disregarded and disempowered. All this indicates that a serious conversation amongst all affected parties is in order.

The Internet Society has taken up the challenge. In May, it collaborated with the international affairs think-tank, Chatham House, to start a true and unbiased conversation about the impact of the Internet on societies. The aim was to depart from the sensationalism often experienced in the media and provide an objective perspective from a wide range of actors. The conversation focused on how the Internet affects social norms and societies at large. A diverse set of participants, from the fields of technology, business, and government, identified that the issues facing the role of the Internet in societies circle around trust, access and digital literacy, the role of the Internet as an engine for economic growth, the evolving security challenge, and regulation. What sort of values we, as a global community, want the Internet to embody, while respecting cultural, political and geographic diversity, was one of the main questions raised by all participants.

In approaching this question, it became clear that, as a first step, it is users and the role they can play where focus should be placed. We seem to have forgotten users along the way. It is those individuals, those people, who need to be placed front and center as the Internet continues to evolve. Individual users must feel empowered to voice their concerns and take action.

Users need to be part of the conversation. To this end, the Internet Society committed to continuing the dialogue that started in May and in June hosted a Community Forum with its wide membership of Internet users. During the ninety minute long discussion, ISOC’s membership was clear that we are at a cross-roads, where the Internet could either lose its original identity and value, or be strengthened as a medium that can change people’s lives and lead to economic growth.

We all must take note of this and ensure that this conversation – no matter how difficult it is – does not end. And, we must also ensure that our discussions introduce a way forward and involve people outside of the Internet community. This is what we sought to do with our two events and we are committed to continue doing so.

The preliminary steps forward from this conversation can be found in A Brave New World: How the Internet Affects Societies.


In 2016, the Internet Society launched a project to take stock of the key forces of change that could impact the future of the Internet. We engaged with a broad community of Members, Chapters, experts and partners. Read the full report in September.

Join the discussion. Mark your calendar for a special edition of InterCommunity 2017, our global membership meeting. In celebration of our 25th anniversary, we will take time to look back, to celebrate with our community and to look ahead to the future.

Categories
25th Anniversary Events Growing the Internet Internet Governance

Help Shape the Future of the Internet

This year, the Internet Society celebrates its 25th anniversary.  Our own history is inextricably tied to the history of the Internet. We were founded in 1992 by Internet pioneers who believed that “a society would emerge from the idea that is the Internet” – and they were right.

As part of the celebration, this September we will launch a comprehensive report that details the key forces that could impact the future of the Internet. The report will also offer recommendations for the Future and we need your input.

Our work on this started last year, when we engaged with a broad community of Members, Chapters, Internet experts and partners. We conducted two global surveys that generated more than 2,500 responses representing the business, public policy, civil society, Internet development, academic and technology communities from 160 countries and economies. Individuals from 94% of the Internet Society’s global chapters participated in the survey. We interviewed more than 130 Internet experts and hosted 15 virtual roundtables. My colleague Sally Wentworth has shared some thoughts on these conversations as she presented the project to UN trade experts in April, in Geneva.

Throughout the project, our community reaffirmed the importance of six “Drivers of Change” and identified three areas that will be significantly impacted in the future: Digital Divides; Personal Freedoms and Rights; and, Media, Culture and Society. These “Impact Areas” are core to the Internet Society’s focus on putting the user at the forefront when considering the future of the Internet.

This has been community-driven from the beginning to the end, and as we reach the final stage, we would like your input on recommendations for Internet leaders and policy makers to ensure the development of an open, trusted, accessible, and global Internet in the future.

We’ll discuss these recommendations in September at our global membership meeting, InterCommunity 2017.  It’s open to all.

Unleash your imagination. Tell us how we can address emerging issues while harnessing the opportunities that the future will bring.

Categories
Growing the Internet Internet Governance Public Policy

A Peek into the Internet's Future

Last week in Geneva I presented the Internet Society’s Internet Futures project during UNCTAD E-Commerce week. Each time I present this project, I gain new perspectives from people who care deeply about the Internet’s future. One government participant wondered what the digital divide will look like in 5-10 years. Will the divide only be about access to technology or will new divides emerge? The implications of censorship, cybersecurity, national economic readiness, and education all loom large in the minds of our community when we think about digital opportunity in the future.

We at the Internet Society are always thinking about what’s next for the Internet and how our community can make a positive impact.

This year marks our 25th anniversary as an advocate for an Internet of opportunity and provides the ideal moment to reflect on what’s ahead. In 2016 we launched a project with our community to imagine the future Internet. We created surveys that generated over 2500 responses representing business, public policy, civil society, Internet development, academic and technology communities from 160 countries. We conducted over 130 expert interviews and held numerous roundtable discussions to dig deeper on these issues.

In September 2017 we will release the culmination of all of this work: the 2017 Global Internet Report on the Internet Futures.

From artificial intelligence to cyber threats to the future of the Internet economy, our community has fascinating observations about what will drive the future of the Internet. Each of these issues is important to the future in its own right, but stakeholders also want to know how these “drivers of change” will impact three fundamental areas:

1. Media, Culture, and Society

2. Personal Freedoms and Rights

3. New and Evolving Digital Divides

It is also clear from our community, that these drivers of change are all inter-related.

For example:

  

Cyber threats and the role of government: Many interviewees believe that cyber attacks will proliferate in the coming years. Will governments respond to increased threats in ways that undermine free expression and privacy online? At the same time, some participants from developing countries express confidence that their governments want to do the right thing but lack the capacity or understanding to do so. They feel that this could have huge implications for the future.

Artificial Intelligence, IoT and Society: As Artificial Intelligence and IoT play an increasing role in the global economy, people wonder if society is ready to deal with the very real and important implications of automation-led change. Will these new technologies empower and liberate working people or will they result in greater inequalities both within and among societies? (Read our new policy paper on this topic.)

Future of the Marketplace and Media: The decline of traditional news outlets has, on the one hand, vastly expanded opportunities for bloggers and citizen journalists but this has also enabled online ‘echo chambers’ and fake news. Across the globe, people we spoke to are deeply worried that the resulting lack of trust in the Internet could have serious implications for the legitimacy of real-world occurrences, such as elections or other society-shaping events.

The feedback we’ve received reflects the diversity of the Internet community and reveals common themes and anxieties. Some have expressed great optimism about the future — the sentiment among young people that the Internet is “life” is inspiring. But some have expressed concerns that the future of the Internet is bleak — that society cannot effectively deal with the changes on the horizon.

Above all, it is clear that we cannot take the Internet’s future for granted. There are forces in the world that are moving rapidly in ways that will impact the future of this great technology, both positive and negative.

To date, the Internet has proven resilient to geopolitical and commercial forces. But, is that sustainable? What role should different stakeholders play to ensure that this great technology continues to withstand the kinds of forces we see ahead? Where does the Internet Society fit in?

No project like this can have all the answers. But, by relying on the rich, diverse experience of the Internet Society’s global community, partners, and users we can see a picture emerging. This will help us to identify the steps needed to ensure the Internet remains an instrument for social and economic opportunity. As we work to bring the last billion people online, we want to make sure they don’t become victims of a new divide.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Internet? Visit our Internet Future’s page and let us know what you think. Watch for the 2017 Global Internet Report on the Internet Futures in September.

Together, we can keep the Internet free and open for all citizens of the world.

Categories
Community Projects Growing the Internet Improving Technical Security

Which direction will the Internet go? Help us explore the forces at work.

In the past seven years, the number of people online has essentially doubled, from 1.7 billion in 2009 to about 3.4 billion today. New and innovative services have also emerged and people and companies around the world are using the Internet in ways barely imagined at the turn of the decade.

Looking ahead to the next five to seven years, there are many forces at work that could have a significant impact on the Internet. The Internet Society is exploring these forces to understand the possible directions the Internet could take.

In March, we conducted an initial survey to gather ideas on the trends and issues both globally and regionally that could impact the Internet. We received hundreds of responses from around the globe, and used this input to build a list of some of the issues on the horizon.

We’ve created a new survey to explore how these issues might unfold over the next five to seven years. We’d like to hear your views. Your responses will help us create a series of stories of what the Internet could look like in the future.

The survey should take approximately 25 minutes to complete and is open until June 26. To participate, visit: http://fotisurvey.isoc.org.

We are looking for a broad range of responses, so please share the survey with your network.

The link to the survey is also available on our homepage for the project at http://dev.internetsociety.org/future-internet

If you have questions, contact us at FOTI@isoc.org.

Categories
Open Internet Standards

What will the Internet look like in the next 5-7 years?

We all know that the Internet is one of the most important tools of our time – but we can’t afford to take the Internet — or its future — for granted.

There are uncertainties facing the Internet – and how they evolve will have a profound impact on society and our ability to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

  • How might the Internet of the future look different than today?
  • How might key trends and uncertainties unfold to create different future paths?
  • What may be at risk and what could be impacted?

To help answer these and other questions, the Internet Society is embarking on a collaborative initiative to envision scenarios for the evolution of the Internet.

We will look at the trends and uncertainties impacting the Internet’s future, the issues of greatest concern globally and regionally, how various future scenarios could impact different uses of the Internet, and recommendations for creating the future Internet we want. 

Ultimately, we hope this process will help us all better prepare for the opportunities and challenges the future may hold. 

If you have questions, please feel free to contact us through our project e-mail address at FOTI@isoc.org.