I am pleased that the Internet Society 2016 Action Plan has been approved by our Board of Trustees at a meeting last weekend in Yokohama. The 2016 Plan is the result of discussions by the staff and the Board with ongoing input from our Chapters and Members. After engaging, through Community Forums, InterCommunity, regular Advisory and Community meetings and on our ongoing digital channels and listening to the voices of ISOC, we present, here, what we believe are the most urgent priorities facing the Internet today. As you read through the plan, you will see that we believe we must focus on two key areas:
- Connecting the unconnected – While there are 3 billion people online today, the digital divide is rapidly becoming an opportunity divide. We are committed to bringing the benefits of the Internet to the remaining unconnected 4 billion people around the world.
- Promoting and restoring trust in the Internet – In an era of massive data breaches, the Snowden revelations and large-scale attacks, there has been an erosion of trust in communication over the Internet. We need to reverse this trend and collaboratively implement the technologies and policies that will restore that necessary trust.
Access to an open, trusted Internet changes lives. We have seen this in the stories we’ve heard from our many members and Chapters. The United Nations has recognized this and for the first time acknowledged that the Internet access as a key part of implementing the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We must seize on this important development and intensify our efforts to ensure that the Internet is for everyone, everywhere.
There are forces, though, that have a different view of the Internet’s future. The Internet has always been a global “network of networks” – interconnected and reachable by all. But some entities would like to fragment that Internet – to break it into separate regional, national or corporate networks. Some would bring us back to an era of walled gardens where access and content was controlled by specific gatekeepers. Some would censor users, limit free expression and turn the Internet into a tool for control rather than a tool for freedom. This is not the future that we want.
Our time now is a critical one. We have before us an urgent choice about the kind of Internet we want to have – and through that choice the kind of global society we want.
I encourage you all to read our 2016 Action Plan and give us your feedback. At the Internet Society, we are ready for the work ahead in 2016 and beyond. Help us with this important work; join with us to make these goals a reality.
We welcome new members of the Internet Society and look forward to working with the many allies and partners who want an open, global, trusted Internet for all.