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Social/Economic Factors Shaping the Future of the Internet

Today’s Internet is the sum of all the Public and Private investment, activities, decisions, inventions and creativity of billion users, over 23000 autonomous systems, and countless creators and innovators.
In a relatively short time, the Internet has become a fundamental infrastructure for our economies and societies and, as a result, raises increasingly important policy issues across a broad range of economic and social dimensions. Three main trends are increasingly influencing the current Internet’s ability to meet the requirements of users:

The openness of the Internet has been a clear factor in fostering competition and innovation, and is increasingly enabling users to develop, collaborate and distribute content and customise applications. This openness is driving a range of new social and economic opportunities and deepening the role of the Internet as a key part of our economic infrastructure. Security threats endanger network operation and a trusted online environment at a time when an increasing number and variety of communities and businesses critically rely on the Internet. Convergence between previously distinct networks and services towards the use of the Internet protocol generates new demands on the Internet and places strains on existing regulatory models.

In considering the range of scenarios that relate to a future Internet, an array of choices can be made, in which technological evolutions may be partnered with social policy and regulatory discussions. To examine these choices and their potential implications, a dialogue between the technical community and the policy community is crucial, and should be informed by the work of economists, social scientists, and legal experts.

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