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Shaping the Internet's Future 23 September 2019

Big Tech Offers Convenience but APAC Consumers Want More Market Choice, Says Internet Society Survey

Singapore – 23 September, 2019 – The Internet Society, a global non-profit dedicated to the open development, evolution and use of the Internet today announced the results of its 2019 Survey on Policy Issues in Asia-Pacific (APAC).  This year’s survey focused on consolidation in the Internet economy and how the growing influence of a handful of powerful players in the online world is shaping its functionality.

The large platforms such as Facebook and Tencent in social networks, Google and Baidu in search and Amazon and Alibaba in online shopping, dominate large parts of the Internet.  Of those surveyed in APAC, 96% said they depend in some way on the products and services from these companies for most of their online activities, with a similar percentage saying these companies also fully or partly influence how they use and access the Internet.

The success of these online platforms is driven by convenience and providing easy access to products and services.  However, 60% of survey respondents indicated they would like to have the ability to choose products and services from more than just five companies, while almost half of them believe it will be either difficult or very difficult to find replacements for the Internet giants’ offerings. The results point to Internet users’ nuanced views about their habits and preferences.

This year’s report will help policymakers and other decision-makers in the region understand that digital consolidation involves a complex set of issues. For instance, while people benefit from big tech’s products and services, they are concerned about the associated security and privacy threats, and also want more choice in the market from big and small companies.

The Asia-Pacific Policy Survey 2019 also finds that security continues to be Internet users’ main concern for the third year in a row.  81% of survey participants in all sub regions cited cybersecurity as the topmost policy concern except for South-East Asia where it’s superseded by access (with 79% saying it’s their top concern). Many respondents noted that new Internet-related policies, regulations and laws have been adopted in the past year focusing on issues of concern such as cybercrime, privacy, data protection and access.

More than 1,300 people from 39 economies across Asia-Pacific answered the online survey in July of this year.

“The result shows most people with Internet access in APAC are heavy users of big tech’s products and increasingly reliant on them on a daily basis. These platforms are able to leverage network effects to increasingly diversify their service offerings, and that explains why many users say they depend on their services,” explains Rajnesh Singh, APAC Regional Director of the Internet Society.

“However, Internet consumers expect future innovations to come from not only big companies, but also small ones. This suggests policymakers need to make sure that policies targeted at developing the digital economy do not favour only the large players, but also small-and-medium-sized firms,” he adds.

Earlier this year, the Internet Society published the 2019 Global Internet Report on this issue as a starting point for exploring whether the Internet economy is consolidating and, if it is, what the implications might be for the future of digital communications, connectivity and commerce.

About the Internet Society

Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure and advocates for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Survey Methodology: 

1,322 individuals from 39 economies across Asia-Pacific answered the survey which was conducted on Survey Monkey from July 1-July 31, 2019. It was divided into three main sections: first set of questions aimed to solicit views on consolidation in the Internet economy, while the second section sought to identify the top Internet-related policy concerns in the region. The third section helped to determine the profile of the sample population.

Over half of the respondents self-identified as residing in or originating from South Asia (56%), with the rest coming from South-East Asia (21%); Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands (13%); and East Asia (10%). Respondents are scattered across all age groups, but lean towards a younger demographic—15% are 15-24 years old, 31% are aged 25-34, another 31% are 35-44, and the remaining 23% are 45 years or older. Respondents are quite evenly distributed across stakeholder groups—25% are with the private sector, 22% with academia, 21% with the technical community, 20% with civil society (including non-governmental organisations, media, individuals and students) and 12% with government.

Media Contact:
Allesandra de Santillana
Internet Society
desantillana@isoc.org

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