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Internet Way of Networking 9 September 2020

How Do We Ensure the Internet Grows and Improves? Start with the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit

Carl Gahnberg
By Carl GahnbergSenior Policy Advisor
Katie Jordan
Katie JordanSenior Policy Advisor

The Internet has been revolutionary for human progress. Bit by bit, byte by byte, it has come to underpin modern life. For those of us online today it is hard to imagine (or remember) a world where the Internet was not the fabric of our social lives, education, entertainment, innovation, and culture. But what makes the Internet such a success, and how can we ensure its future? What takes a “network of networks” and makes it the Internet? We’ve launched the Internet Way of Networking’s Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit (IIAT) to to help answer that question.

The current pandemic has showed us both the value and the opportunities the Internet holds. For societies to pivot to a reality where most of our lives became digital overnight is a true testament to the possibilities that are inherent in the Internet.

But while the Internet has proved its resilience under the weight of an online society, it is easy to forget that its fundamental premise is not about cables and computers, but about collaboratively interconnecting independent networks to a greater whole. Because what fundamentally makes up the Internet, and what it could grow to become in the future, is rooted in its architecture as a model for how you interconnect networks at a global scale. We call our project the Internet Way of Networking because this model of inter-networking should not be taken for granted – it is dependent on the continued support of everyone who has a stake in it. When we talk about the incredible resource we are trying to protect and grow, we are talking about the unique globally-connected Internet – not the fragmented pieces of network that have splintered off as a result of maligned policies in some countries. It’s the Internet with a capital I.

What differentiates the Internet from other models of networking, and what should we protect in a system that draws in strength from constant change? The Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit is intended to address just that. It provides a toolkit policymakers, technologists, and other Internet users and advocates can use to assess the implications of change – whether those are policy interventions or new technologies. The IIAT will evolve with you and grow over time. The toolkit includes what we believe are the most essential features we need to promote and protect together: The Critical Properties of the Internet Way of Networking.

These properties and all of the documents in the toolkit are the result of over nine months of consultations, communications, and outreach. We worked with cross-project experts internally, Chapters, members, and our broader community to help create this body of work. We are grateful to all of you for your help and contributions.

But this is not the end of our work. We need your help to continue to identify trends, expand the toolkit, and assess how policies and technology proposals may impact these critical properties. We must work together to ensure the external impacts to the Internet help it grow and improve – not fracture or weaken.

How can you protect and enhance the Internet, ensuring it brings connectivity, empowerment, and innovation to everyone? Read and use the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit.


Image credit: kazuend 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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