Internet Society Reports Concentration of Power Is Altering the Internet Economy

February 27, 2019 - 02:48
Internet Society Reports Concentration of Power Is Altering the Internet Economy

Influence by Few Players Impacts Innovation, Interoperability, Regulation and Resiliency


SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 27 February 2019 - The Internet Society (ISOC), a global non-profit dedicated toensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet, todayreleased the "2019 Global Internet Report­-- Consolidation in the Internet Economy." The report notes the growing influence of a few powerful players inthe Internet economy, and it explores what that could mean for the future ofdigital communications, connectivity and commerce.


The fact that a few corporations dominate large parts of theInternet is not news. From the dominance of Facebook in social messaging, Google insearch, and Amazon in online shopping, the largest Internet platforms arecapturing fundamental human interactions. These industry giants already dominate the web and other Internetapplications, and are expanding into new service and content areas as they workto retain existing customers and fuel revenue growth.


Thisreport will help policymakers and other decision-makers understand that digitalconsolidation involves a complex set of issues, and that responses toconsolidation will affect different layers of the Internet. Responding toconsolidation trends in one field without considering how these trends echo andreverberate in other fields or layers could lead to unintended and damagingconsequences for the Internet and economic development.


Thereport is the beginning of a conversation about consolidation and concentrationin the Internet economy. It is tempting to reach for simplistic answers aboutthe Internet's future, but the analysis show the questions surrounding thesetrends are more complex, and hasty interventions to consolidation trends couldlead to unintended consequences and harm for the Internet and its users.


A consolidated Internet, with powerconcentrated in the hands of a few, could stifle innovation or lead to issuesaffecting a disproportionate number of users. However, concentration is not always bad. For example, feature-richcloud platforms enable businesses of all sizes to enter new markets and operateat speeds and scale not otherwise possible. The scale of large players meansthat when they embrace important new technologies like IPv6, it can affect thewhole Internet.


But there are also risks when a small group oflarge players has so much control, the report adds. These include:


  • the potential for more limited choice in the marketplace
  • the lack of platform diversity may create significant economicdependencies, including the risk that companies will become too big to fail
  • the impact on interoperability and standardization
  • regulatory responses to consolidation that may have unintendedconsequences to the global Internet

As a result, the report suggests, keystakeholders need to assess how best to address industry concentration as itrelates to customer choice, interoperability, regulation, and resiliency.


"This Global Internet Report tells us that theInternet Society has a great deal of work to do," said Internet SocietyPresident and CEO Andrew Sullivan. "We must understand what concentration andconsolidation on the Internet mean, both for its architecture and for the widersociety that depends on it. We must understand what is really happening to theInternet in order to ensure that we build the Internet for everyone."


The Internet Society will continue its effortsto learn more about consolidation and its implications for the Internetincluding funding for research and a collaboration with Chatham Houseon a special issue of the Journal of Cyber Policy.

About the Internet Society

Foundedby Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organizationdedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet.Working through a global community of chapters and members, the InternetSociety collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologiesthat keep the Internet safe and secure and advocates for policies that enable universalaccess. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force(IETF).


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