Would an internet failure result in what economists call a “too big to fail” disaster? In other words, will such a collapse be catastrophic for our society and the economy? If the internet fails we cannot go back to the systems that helped us to run our lives in the 1950s, when we had only one-third of the population to worry about. We are growing from 7 to 9 billion people, whether we like it or not, and we therefore need the right systems to manage a world of 9 billion people.
Very few people fully realise the impact of this population growth in such an incredibly short period. And it is here that the internet plays its most important role. Yet technically it was never designed to take on such enormous responsibilities. Resolving the issues surrounding control and governance of the internet is also of fundamental importance to the future success of the Internet.
This BuddeComm Intelligence report explores the increasingly vital importance of the Internet to our economy and society and the underlying factors which need to be considered when examining the role it plays. The report also analyses the developments regarding governance of the Internet and draws on developments from the World Conference on International Telecommuncations (WCIT).
On the one hand, we were lucky that the internet in its current format was invented by academics and innovative independent entrepreneurs rather than by governments and the vested commercial interests. Furthermore, the various elements of the internet are built by private companies and as such are also owned by them – very little ‘internet ownership’ is in the hands of governments. The internet would never have been developed if it had been left to governments, telcos or the international institutions around them. On the other hand, the explosion of the internet has also produced a range of issues that, whether we like it or not, has reached a level that goes beyond the more community-based developments. The debate about the control of the internet is also intensifying.