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Shaping the Internet’s future

As does every technology, the Internet has grown, evolved, and adapted to new technologies and new uses. As a global infrastructure, the Internet is also shaped by economic and policy forces. A key part of the Internet Society’s work is to understand and anticipate how these various factors might affect the Internet’s future, and work to ensure changes do not undermine the key attributes that have allowed the Internet to thrive over the past three decades.

The 2017 Internet Society Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future underscored that emerging trends (such as the Internet of Things) have the potential for great benefit, but also carry with them risks to the Internet itself. That observation led the Internet Society to attempt to do something about the issues, through the effort on IoT security. Similarly, the upcoming Global Internet Report looks at how consolidation—including growing forces of concentration, vertical and horizontal integration, and fewer opportunities for market entry and competition—might influence the Internet’s fundamental technical properties, shape the role of Internet stakeholders including governments, and affect Internet users themselves. The insight gained from these reports informs the Internet Society’s work in 2019.

During the upcoming year, based on issues raised the soon to be released Global Internet Report, we will improve our understanding of how consolidation at all layers of the Internet could shape not just the ways in which the Internet is used by people around the world, but its future technical evolution in the next three to five years. Our 2019 efforts will focus on understanding these issues, and on steps that may need to be taken to address the impact of consolidation on users, including opportunities it might bring.

Specific activities in 2019 will include a broad-ranging effort to clearly formulate the issue of consolidation so that directed research can be undertaken to understand how it might affect the Internet in the future, and what steps may be taken to ensure the Internet remains an open global platform for permission-less innovation. The understanding gained through this effort will be applied across the organization, for example in our work within policy forums where governance decisions that may affect the Internet are made.

Shaping Future News

Future Thinking: Chris Yiu of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change
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Shaping the Internet's Future 9 January 2019

Future Thinking: Chris Yiu of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

In 2017, the Internet Society unveiled the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future. The interactive report identifies...

Future Thinking: Orla Lynskey on Data in the Age of Consolidation
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Shaping the Internet's Future 7 December 2018

Future Thinking: Orla Lynskey on Data in the Age of Consolidation

Last year, the Internet Society unveiled the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future. The interactive report identifies...

Future Thinking: Payal Malik of the Competition Commission of India
Future Thinking: Payal Malik of the Competition Commission of India Thumbnail
Shaping the Internet's Future 27 November 2018

Future Thinking: Payal Malik of the Competition Commission of India

Last year, the Internet Society unveiled the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future. The interactive report identifies...

Future Thinking: Natali Helberger on the Impact of Consolidation on Media Diversity
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Shaping the Internet's Future 1 November 2018

Future Thinking: Natali Helberger on the Impact of Consolidation on Media Diversity

Last year, the Internet Society unveiled the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future. The interactive report identifies...

New Internet Draft: Considerations on Internet Consolidation and the Internet Architecture
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Shaping the Internet's Future 24 October 2018

New Internet Draft: Considerations on Internet Consolidation and the Internet Architecture

Are there assumptions about the Internet architecture that no longer hold in a world where larger, more centralized entities...

Future Thinking: Mozilla Director of Public Policy Chris Riley on the Internet Economy
Future Thinking: Mozilla Director of Public Policy Chris Riley on the Internet Economy Thumbnail
Shaping the Internet's Future 28 August 2018

Future Thinking: Mozilla Director of Public Policy Chris Riley on the Internet Economy

Last year, the Internet Society unveiled the 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future. The interactive report identifies...

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2017 Global Internet Report

Paths to Our Digital Future

2019 Global Internet Report

How consolidation of the Internet Economy will impact the Internet’s technical evolution and use in the future

The 2017 Global Internet Report found that our community is optimistic about a dynamic Internet economy in the future, but is also concerned that the lack thereof could have severe implications for the Internet’s technical evolution and use. The Internet Society’s 2019 Global Internet Report will study several questions linked to an increasingly consolidated Internet economy, including understanding the potential benefits and challenges of consolidation – to its users as well as to the Internet’s fundamental technical properties. The report will also look into how this trend is shaping the future role of Internet stakeholders including governments. In doing so, the report will be guided by the Internet Society’s mission to promote the development of the Internet as a global technical infrastructure, a resource to enrich people’s lives, and a force for good in society.