A characteristic of the Internet, which has allowed it to grow so quickly and made it sustainable, is that it is open – both for users to access and innovate, and for all stakeholders to participate in its development and governance. These two aspects of openness did not arise separately, but rather are closely linked, two sides of the same coin.
The founders of the Internet effectively acted as its first multi-stakeholder group. They were pragmatic, pioneering developers, guided by strong, shared foundational principles. They set standards, arranged for interconnection, provided service to their groups, determined policies, and managed resources. As users of the Internet themselves, they governed with a goal to keep the Internet open and make it sustainable, creating an early feedback loop between the users of the Internet and their usage.
Later, as the Internet quickly grew and then commercialized, the roles of the founders were filled by organizations that arose and specialized, but held firm to the principle of user involvement. These institutions developed first to set standards and coordinate resources, then later emerged to address broader Internet governance matters. In this fashion, the feedback loop binding the users of the Internet to its ongoing oversight created an infinite loop of continuous improvement.
Global Internet Report is the first in a series meant to celebrate the progress of the Internet, highlight trends, and illustrate the principles that will continue to sustain the growth of the Internet. This report focuses on the open and sustainable Internet – what we mean by that, what benefits it brings, and how to overcome threats that prevent those of us already online from enjoying the full benefits, or that keep non-users Introduction Global Internet Report 2014, 17 from going online in the first place. Given the rapid pace of change, it is important to solidify and spread the benefits of the open Internet, rather than taking them for granted.
There are still significant differences dividing the Internet experience around the world. Some users are never out of range of a high-speed connection, while others may have to walk to the nearest access point to get online. Some have multiple smartphones, each with a mobile broadband connection, while others must share a phone among the whole family. And some are ‘digital natives’, for whom nothing is a surprise, while others of us – those who remember a time before the Internet – still marvel at what can, and is, being done online.
Read: Global Internet Report 2014