Categories
Shaping the Internet's Future

APAC Policy Survey 2019: Consolidation in the Internet Economy

The Internet is changing. Consolidation in the Internet economy, the topic of the Global Internet Report 2019, might be the source of ongoing shifts in its underlying infrastructure and the way users engage, among many other things.

Clearly, the growing presence of big Internet platforms can benefit the user by offering seamless Internet experiences, but it could also harm innovation, competition, and the Internet’s broader architecture, says the report, which marks the start of the Internet Society’s efforts to examine this issue.

The Internet in Asia-Pacific is no exception. A few corporations – including Facebook and Tencent in social networking, Google and Baidu in search, and Amazon and Alibaba in online shopping – dominate large parts of the Internet, benefitting people while raising similar questions about what it means for the Internet’s fundamental properties.

This year’s Survey on Policy Issues in Asia-Pacific, released today, helps deepen our understanding of the role that corporations play in shaping Internet use and user experience in the region and how they may impact future innovation on the Internet.

More than 1,300 people from 39 economies in the region took our online survey when we opened it to the public in July.

The results show a big majority of Internet users in APAC are heavy users of the products of companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Alphabet (Google), and that almost all respondents depend in some way on their offerings for most of their online activities.

Almost half of the respondents say it will be either difficult or very difficult to find replacements for those products.

The respondents are concerned about security. They ranked it as their top concern when they choose an online service, followed by how easy it is to use and if it is free of charge.

In general, they have more trust in big companies than small ones. Yet, they expect future innovations on the Internet to come from not only big companies, but also new and emerging firms.

The survey shows that digital consolidation involves a complex set of issues. It helps inform us as we continue to delve deep into the topic of consolidation from different perspectives.

Thank you to many of you who took part in the survey. Please continue to share your views with us on our website or social media.

Read the full report and look back at past surveys: 201420152016, 2017, and 2018.

Categories
Shaping the Internet's Future

The Global Internet Report: Consolidation in the Internet Economy

The 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future focused attention on the significant potential of the Internet for innovation and sustainable development, but without denying or shirking the challenges it also introduces. This forward-looking analysis is a powerful advocacy tool for anyone who wants to protect and build the open Internet.

Over the past year, we spent time working with our community on a new report. It takes a closer look at one of those forces and how it may impact the future: 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 chose this theme because findings from the 2017 report, and what’s happened since, are showing 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 network developments and hosting services to applications. Among these trends are processes that enable some companies to own our experience at almost every stage.

Such trends of consolidation are not new and can be expected as markets and industries mature. To some, it is an evolution foremost characterized by lower prices and better services. But consolidation also implies a greater influence by a few, raising concerns of a more centralized Internet that could impede its resilience, openness, and diversity.

When we started this project, our ambition was to provide clear answers and recommendations. Instead, it raised an even longer set of questions.

This report marks the start of a new conversation. One where we need your help. In 2019 we will be conducting a deeper dive into the topic of consolidation. There will be new research through a collaboration with Chatham House. This will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Cyber Policy. We will also offer to fund for the collection of relevant data, to be made available for further research. And, of course, we will continue our conversations with you on our website, over social media, and more.

Read the 2019 Global Internet Report: Consolidation in the Internet Economy

Learn more about the Call for Papers for the special issue on consolidation.

Applications for research funding for data collection will open 1 March and be available here.

If you have comments, questions or suggestions to the team that has worked on the report, please email foti@isoc.org

Categories
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
Building Trust Improving Technical Security Technology

Data Breaches and You – our Global Internet Report 2016 explains the critical steps you need to take now

Data breaches are the oil spills of the digital economy.  Over 429 million people were affected by reported data breaches in 2015 – and that number is certain to grow even higher in 2016.

These large-scale data breaches along with uncertainties about the use of our data, cybercrime, surveillance and other online threats are eroding trust on the Internet.  

This is why the 2016 edition of our Global Internet Report is dedicated to exploring data breaches, their impact on user trust and their consequences for the global digital economy.

These consequences, not surprisingly, can be serious. The purpose of the report is not to emphasize the problem, but to offer solutions and to emphasize the important role that companies and organizations play in building a more trusted Internet. 

A key question raised by the report is:

  • why are organisations not taking all available steps to protect the personal information they collect from each of us? 

The report examines the issues and walks through a number of case studies that highlight the concerns. It ends with a series of five concrete recommendations for actions we need to take.

This video provides a preview: 

We ask you to please read the 2016 GIR, to share the report widely, and to take whatever actions you can to bring about a more trusted Internet.

This issue of trust is so serious that we risk undoing all of the progress we have made over the past three decades. It is time we act together to solve it.

Categories
Technology

How We Connect: Mobile is shifting the Internet dynamic

In the earliest days of the Internet, connectivity was limited to researchers and developers at academic institutions and government research facilities in the United States. Today, the Internet has evolved into a cornerstone of economic and social development that has an immeasurable impact on individuals’ daily lives around the world.

More than three billion people globally are online, and the mobile Internet offers hundreds of millions their primary, if not only, means of accessing the Internet. At the Internet Society, we believe the Internet is for everyone, and it seems certain that mobile holds the promise of Internet connectivity for the next billion people.

The Internet is arguably the most transformative technology of our time. It has resulted in tremendous changes in how we learn, buy, work and play. It has shifted markets, politics and societies. The reason the Internet has been so transformative is that it allows for unfettered connectivity between users and enables anyone, anywhere to come up with the next big idea.

The rise of mobile will unleash the creativity and innovation of a whole new generation of Internet citizens, which will benefit all of us. Understanding the mobile Internet environment that these new users will encounter is essential to enhancing the technology standards and governance of the Internet. To further this discussion, today we released a study on the mobile Internet – The Global Internet Report 2015, authored by Michael Kende, our Chief Economist.

The report is a fascinating exploration into the implications of mobile’s increasingly important role in Internet connectivity, covering mobile Internet availability, affordability, and relevance to potential users, and highlighting the opportunities as well as challenges to ensure all users can enjoy the full benefits of mobile access to the open Internet.

If the next billion are coming online as a result of mobile, then it is incumbent upon us to make sure that the technology does not limit them in any way. In particular, the mobile Internet should remain open to enable the permission-less innovation that has driven the continuous growth and evolution of the Internet to date, including the emergence of the mobile Internet itself.

We celebrate the profound impact of the mobile Internet in dramatically increasing the speed of Internet deployment. This is the Internet of opportunity and everyone should be included in the promise and possibilities created by the Internet.

Categories
Growing the Internet Internet Governance

New Internet numbers show continued growth

Alongside our first annual Global Internet Report, we provided a set of maps based on the report. Recently the ITU provided 2013 data, which we have used to update several of the maps. The numbers indicate some fascinating statistics about Internet usage in countries around the world for 2013:

  • China has the largest number of Internet users at 634,589,474 
  • Iceland has the highest Internet penetration at 96.55% 
  • Papua New Guinea experienced the largest growth in Internet users, at 85.7%, from 3.5% penetration in 2012 to 6.5% in 2013

Please continue to check in as we continue to update and add new maps

Categories
Growing the Internet

The Digital Divide is Not Binary

The common view of the digital divide is that it separates the Internet haves from the have-nots; dividing those who are online from those who would like to get online, but are prevented based on the availability or affordability of access.  

This view of the divide is fostered by a positive feedback loop – the haves understandably assume everyone wants to join them, while the have-nots understandably push for access.  However, as shown in the recently released Internet Society Global Internet Report, there is an overlooked divide within the have-nots, between those who are interested to get online, and those who are not.  

As shown in the figure below, in a series of country surveys, more non-Internet users indicate that they are not online because of a lack of interest, understanding or time, rather than the affordability or availability of access.  This suggests a nuanced approach to the digital divide, one that focuses not just on providing affordable and universal access to the Internet, but also on increasing interest to use the access.  As discussed in the report, in order to do so, content must be locally relevant – for starters, in the right language – and accessible, preferably hosted in-country to lower the latency and cost of access.

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Categories
Internet Governance

Internet Milestones

When thinking about the Internet these days, many people think about ‘big data’, but we should also keep in mind the big numbers that the Internet is generating. This was driven home several weeks ago, when the Gangnam Style music video hit two billion views on YouTube, which The Economist pointed out represents 16,000 years of continual play!  

Other milestones are somewhat less trivial:

  • More than 1 billion Internet hosts
  • More than 2 billion Wikipedia Project edits (including Wikipedia)
  • Almost 3 billion Internet users
  • Nearly 4 billion IPv4 addresses allocated

The list continues into the tens of billions (apps downloaded) and hundreds of billions (Tweets per year).  In our recently release Global Internet Report, we compiled a number of these in the Timeline below.  This graphic highlights some significant underlying trends as well, in terms of movements away from dial-up to fixed broadband, and then from fixed broadband to mobile broadband Internet access; from developed to developing world usage; and from text to video traffic.  

What milestone did we miss?

Categories
Internet Governance Technology

Introducing the Global Internet Report

In 2012, the life of Battushig Myanganbayar, a 15 year old in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, took an unexpected turn. Where ten years earlier, his destiny would have been limited by circumstances, his genius was revealed through his performance on a free online course offered by MIT. As a result, he was admitted to MIT and, at 17, was hired there to provide his insights on edX, an online education consortium of Harvard and MIT, to help make sure that others like him are identified.

The key to opening his future – and that of those like him – began with open access to the Internet.  While many of us take it for granted today, not everyone is online today, and not everyone online today has full access to the benefits of the Internet.  We must ensure that we do what we can to develop the open Internet around the world, because what yesterday was a dream, could tomorrow be a memory.

To this end, the Internet Society, today at the WSIS +10 High-Level Event, launched the first in what will become an annual series of Global Internet Reports to provide a detailed snapshot of Internet progress. Each report will follow a theme; this year’s being “Open and Sustainable Access for All.”  While we celebrate success, we are also mindful, particularly following the tumultuous revelations of 2013, that we must address urgent challenges.

The report first highlights a number of the benefits of open Internet access – the daily occurrences that would have been a pipe dream ten years ago, and have become almost routine today.  

  • The engineer in Togo who raised money on a European crowd-funding site to create a cheap 3D printer using discarded electronics;
  • The ability of a million sellers of handmade and vintage items to use Etsy to sell to customers in 200 countries with minimal investment; and
  • The ability of a comedian in Italy to start an online party that in four years captured the most seats of any party in the general election of 2013.

However, while the number of Internet users online is set to pass three billion early next year, we have work to do – those online do not all have access to the same benefits, and the majority of the world’s population is not yet online.  Many factors – such as geography, economics, language, cultural attitudes, regulations, and government policy – combine to hamper open and sustainable access to the Internet in many parts of the world, restricting the universality of its benefits.The Internet model is unique in many ways – in particular, since its founding days, it has been governed and developed by its users, for its users.  Together, all stakeholders work to develop new standards, govern shared resources, and develop critical infrastructure.  This first Global Internet Report is dedicated to the users, not least our 60,000 members, who in turn are dedicated to promoting and preserving the Internet model worldwide.

So, I hope you enjoy our first Global Internet Report, and I welcome your suggestions to help this new annual publication develop as an important resource for future Internet development.