The Internet has become a global, complex, layered, and increasingly indispensable ecosystem. For purposes of this column, “Internet” includes the underlying digital transport infrastructure including subsea and land-based fiber and cable, orbiting satellites, the networks of routers, the Domain Name System, datacenters and their networks, edge devices of all kinds (laptops, desktops, pads, smartphones, Internet-enabled devices, and sensors), the World Wide Web, content distribution systems and, for all I know, the kitchen sink.
Adding to that are all the institutions associated with implementing, operating, standardizing, and regulating various aspects of this multifaceted construct. Not to be forgotten are all the organizations and individuals utilizing the Internet in their daily activities. Such a comprehensive definition explains why governments of the world have interest in and concerns about the Internet.
The grand collaboration that allows the Internet to work has delivered countless benefits to all the interested parties. It is a generative infrastructure that invites innovation in all dimensions: applications, enabled and enabling devices, new communication technology, business models, social networking, financial services, political engagement, scientific discovery, and much more. It has put amplifying power into the hands of countries, corporations, and consumers unlike anything in the past. By implication, this system is equally available for beneficial and harmful purposes as is often the case with infrastructure open to public use. How can we preserve its beneficial uses and diminish unwanted harmful abuse?
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