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Internet Governance 29 January 2018

The State of the Net Today – Why we must Act now for its Future

Sally Shipman Wentworth
By Sally Shipman WentworthSenior Vice President, Project Staff

At the Internet Society, we are worried about the state of the Internet today. This global “network of networks” is now a critical part of our daily lives. We use it to communicate and connect with our families, friends, co-workers and customers. It is the engine that powers the global economy. It is our source of entertainment, of education, and of information. The Internet brings so many opportunities to all.

But… those opportunities are now under attack from several threats:

  • Lack of trust – We now find ourselves asking key questions: how can we trust that the information we see online is accurate? How do we know we are communicating with the correct people?
  • Security of the core of the Internet – The core infrastructure that creates the network of networks is now under constant attacks. Botnets, DDoS attacks, routing attacks – the public core of the Internet needs protection.
  • The explosion of connected devices – We are connecting almost everything to the Internet, and this “Internet of Things (IoT)” is being largely connected with little concern for security.
  • The growing divide between the connected and unconnected – Over 40% of the world’s people are not connected to the Internet, and they are being left behind as the opportunities advance.

We must secure the Internet and raise the level of trust in the system if we are to make the same opportunities available to all. As Kathy Brown wrote in her Chatham House editorial last month, we need new tools and new models to solve these issues. And as we outlined in our “Paths to our Digital Future” global report, we must ensure that humanity is at the center of tomorrow’s Internet.

Earlier today in Washington, DC, I was privileged to speak at an outstanding meeting of people – the State of the Net 2018 event. The event’s agenda is a strong one and while obviously focused on the USA, the topics discussed are of global impact, now and far into the future. Discussing the complex issue of Internet Governance, I highlighted the need for governments and other stakeholders to go a step further in their commitment to the inclusive, multistakeholder model of governance and to begin implementing policies based on this thinking in their home countries. It’s time to bring this vision of governance to life and to demonstrate its clear value as a model for the future Internet.

We believe that the Internet of the future must be built on the values just like this that have defined its past. It must be an Internet that is open, globally-connected, secure and trustworthy. It needs everyone at the table. Expanding the inclusive model of governance to more places around the world is a central pillar in achieving this kind of Internet but there are many other ways to work towards this goal and while we can expect setbacks along the way, we at the Internet Society want to do more and work harder to influence the outcome.

The Internet holds enormous potential to empower, inform and bring unparalleled opportunity to people around the world. This is the vision of the Internet – an Internet for everyone – that guides our work, but whether it ultimately delivers on this promise in the future or not, is up to us. All of us, together.

I ask you to please read the links I’ve shared here, to watch and share the videos coming out of the SOTN event today, and most importantly … to ACT to shape the Internet of tomorrow.

Editor’s note: Sally’s panel session at the State of the Net 2018 event is available for viewing:

You can also watch the video directly on Livestream.com.

Image credit: Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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