The 2017 Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future focused attention on the significant potential of the Internet for innovation and sustainable development, but without denying or shirking the challenges it also introduces. This forward-looking analysis is a powerful advocacy tool for anyone who wants to protect and build the open Internet.
Over the past year, we spent time working with our community on a new report. It takes a closer look at one of those forces and how it may impact the future: Consolidation in the Internet Economy. Understood as growing forces of concentration, vertical and horizontal integration, and fewer opportunities for market entry and competition, this topic includes the impact of consolidating forces on all stakeholders as well as on the Internet’s underlying and evolving technology.
We chose this theme because findings from the 2017 report, and what’s happened since, are showing increasing concerns about a growing concentration of power in the Internet economy. They point to market and technical forces that may be driving consolidation at different “layers” of the Internet, from network developments and hosting services to applications. Among these trends are processes that enable some companies to own our experience at almost every stage.
Such trends of consolidation are not new and can be expected as markets and industries mature. To some, it is an evolution foremost characterized by lower prices and better services. But consolidation also implies a greater influence by a few, raising concerns of a more centralized Internet that could impede its resilience, openness, and diversity.
When we started this project, our ambition was to provide clear answers and recommendations. Instead, it raised an even longer set of questions.
This report marks the start of a new conversation. One where we need your help. In 2019 we will be conducting a deeper dive into the topic of consolidation. There will be new research through a collaboration with Chatham House. This will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Cyber Policy. We will also offer to fund for the collection of relevant data, to be made available for further research. And, of course, we will continue our conversations with you on our website, over social media, and more.
Applications for research funding for data collection has been opened since 1 March and is available here.
If you have comments, questions or suggestions to the team that has worked on the report, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.