Who Runs the Internet: Internet Consolidation and Control

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Consolidation is not a new phenomenon, but often a natural evolution as industries and markets mature.

In recent years, there has been a growing debate around the influence of a few large Internet technology companies on the Internet’s infrastructure and over the popular applications and social media platforms that we use every day. The Internet which was once widely viewed as a collective platform for limitless, permissionless innovation, competition and, growth, is now increasingly viewed as a consolidated environment dominated by few. Such market dominance threatens to undermine the Internet’s fundamental benefits as a distributed network, in which no single entity has control.

The panel examined the risks of consolidation throughout the Internet’s technology stack, such as the impact on complex supply chains that support applications, including cloud provisions, ‘as a service’. It also explored the potential benefits. For example, when building out essential infrastructure to support faster, cheaper Internet services in developing economies, consolidation can create economies of scale that bring the resource-intensive building blocks of the Internet economy within the reach of the new start-ups and innovators. The panel provided an interdisciplinary perspective, exploring the relationship between consolidation and evolutions in the Internet infrastructure as well as unpacking its policy implications.

This event supports a special issue of the Journal of Cyber Policy as part of a collaboration between Chatham House and the Internet Society which explores the impact of consolidation on the Internet’s fundamental architecture. The special issue will be open access and will be published in the Spring of 2020.

Participants:
  • Andrew Sullivan, President and CEO, Internet Society
  • Jennifer Cobbe, Coordinator of the Trust & Technology Initiative, University of Cambridge
  • Jesse Sowell, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas

Moderator: Emily Taylor, Associate Fellow Chatham House, Editor of the Journal of Cyber Policy

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Date and Time

18:00 – 19:15 UTC

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Location

Chatham House

10 St James's Square, St. James's, London SW1Y 4LE