Tuesday, 05 July 2016 03:01

An Internet for everyone


The Internet has rapidly become the most important infrastructure in the world. We are now, however, rapidly witnessing how it is becoming the infrastructure of all other infrastructures as well.

Industry 4.0 has become a catch-all word for much of the debate about the future of our economies. From Davos to Hanover, the phrase “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is being used to describe this change.

Over the last two years I chaired the Global Commission on Internet Governance. As we worked — meeting in Stockholm, Seoul, Ottawa, London, The Hague, Bangalore, Accra, Palm Springs and Amman — it become clear to me that this is an incomplete way of describing the transformation we are beginning to see.

While it could be the fourth phase of the industrial revolution, future historians are more likely to describe it as the transition from the industrial to the digital era in the evolution of human society.

The Commission was set up as a broad-based, independent initiative to address the many Internet governance issues that this transition will generate. The more we understood the enormous potential benefits of this transformation to our societies, the more we became concerned by the many challenges that threatened its success.

The benefits are obvious. Developing countries can leap-frog into a new generation of technologies, opening up new possibilities for economic and social development. The World Bank estimates that a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration raises GDP by more than 1 per cent. A new wave of entrepreneurship is sweeping over Africa and Asia as the smartphone becomes more and more readily available.

There is certainly still a significant digital divide — but with the rapid development we are now witnessing, that divide will become more generational than geographic, and it will affect all of our societies. The generations that knew fax machines will have difficulties understanding the Snapchat generation, and vice versa.

Technology rapidly increases online accessibility. If present trends continue, 90 per cent of the global population is likely to be covered by mobile broadband networks with similar or better capacity than we have in most of Europe today — in a little more than five years.

And that’s when the real revolution will start. 5G mobile networks with a capacity perhaps 100 times better than today’s will usher us into the era of the Internet of Things. Everything could be connected to, and potentially interact with, everything else.

Two major challenges immediately arise.

The first concerns trust. Can we as citizens trust that big government and big corporations don’t misuse the data and information that, one way or another, they are collecting about us? Is there a risk of a cyber “2084” as we look ahead?

The other concern is around security. Conflict and war suddenly take on a cyber dimension that might easily spin out of control if clear norms for state behaviour are not established. With an Internet of Everything, there is suddenly also the risk of a militarisation of everything. In our everyday lives we become vastly more exposed and vulnerable to cybercrime in many ways that were, until recently, unimaginable.

We concluded it is imperative for everyone to take these issues far more seriously if trust in the Internet is to be preserved. Otherwise, the Internet’s promise will never come to fruition.

We have called for a new social compact to regulate the state use of surveillance on the net. There is no question that states have a responsibility to safeguard the rule of law in the digital domain. However, this role must be performed within clearly defined limits and with oversight perceived as robust and credible.

By the same token, encryption must remain a right not unduly undermined or put into question. We must understand that we safeguard our data not through where it is stored — in the digital world there are no real borders — but through how well we protect it wherever it happens to be.

Data will be the key resource of our future economies. Today there is more data generated every week than during the previous thousand years, and the use of this data will drive growing parts of the global economy. We have a strong interest in safeguarding the free flow of data across the global economy as we see digital value chains rapidly gaining importance.

Cyber hygiene must suffuse our entire economy, and it must start at home. Every unsafe device, and every unsafe use of a device, exposes both the user and other people to danger. In addition, industry must resist a tendency to rush new software to market in the belief that it can be patched further down the line. No one has the right to sell insecurity.

The governance of the Internet is today a biosphere of organisations and institutions bringing together all who have a stake in the system. Although questioned by those keen to see U.S. conspiracies everywhere, this multi-stakeholder web of governance has served the world extraordinarily well so far.

Nevertheless, when the U.S. government now gives up its last vestige of direct involvement in the governance of the Internet, it is an important step towards increasing the international legitimacy of the multi-stakeholder system.

Preserving the hallmarks of the multistakeholder model is key to its future dynamic development. We must not allow the governance of the Internet to be captured either by government or corporate interests. Everyone has a stake, and no one should have exclusive control.

This clashes with concepts like “Internet sovereignty”, launched primarily by China but supported by Russia and others. While a dialogue with China, a rapidly emerging cyberpower, is essential, and agreements on important issues should be sought, we should never forget the fundamental difference between open, democratic societies and others.

The final report of the Commission has now been presented in conjunction with the ministerial meeting of the 34 nations of the OECD in Cancun, Mexico earlier this week. It does not provide an answer to all the questions arising from these developments, but it is a call to everyone to put them at the very centre of policy discussions and policy making in the years ahead. It provides a roadmap for the future of the Internet.

The digital age is rapidly emerging. It will, over time, transform our economies and societies in ways beyond our comprehension. But we must act now to address the challenges in order to benefit from its massive potential. Our Commission report is a call to action.

Source:  https://ipolitics.ca/2016/06/26/an-internet-for-everyone/


World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.