Strengthening the Internet for Global, Ubiquitous and Secure Commercial Use: Perspectives, Lessons, Issues and Challenges
Posted: 27 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 26, 2017
Today we have near-universal availability of the Internet, with over 3 billion users in some 200 countries worldwide. Simultaneously the intelligent mobile phone, with some 7.1 billion subscriptions globally, has become the most widely used communications device in the world, the access device of choice in developing countries and it is often the only available device there for accessing the Internet and its associated services.
As broadband mobile Internet access becomes more readily available, affordable and the norm, intelligent mobile devices are being used widely for business applications and financial transactions, as well as for personal and social purposes. This expansion will create more billions of vulnerable new mobile Internet users worldwide, with the bulk located in developing countries, who are likely to become an additional target for malware, identity theft, cyber-fraud and cyber-crime.
Although the Internet has transformed our economy and society, it was never designed and built for global, ubiquitous and secure commercial use. The positive socio-economic benefits derived from the Internet and the World Wide Web are enormous and have been appropriated. However, the negative developments (e.g. malware, hacking, identity theft, organized cyber-fraud and cyber-crime) are increasing in magnitude and cost. They need to be studied more carefully by the TPRC community and the trade-offs with the benefits understood better, so that practical and workable remedial measures can be proposed, both nationally and globally.
In this paper the authors will show that the building of an appropriate institutional and legal infrastructure for the global digital marketplace and its underlying Internet infrastructure, as well as the creation of commonly accepted, understandable and internationally enforceable marketplace rules which provide trust and confidence for all those who operate in that marketplace or are affected by it, is a necessary condition for the efficient functioning of a global, digital economy. The paper makes the case that the status quo is untenable in the medium term. The increasing quantitative load put on the Internet by billions of new users (e.g. mobile users) and new uses (e.g. the Internet of Things), combined with increasing net threats, will eventually degrade the public Internet unless new institutional and governance arrangements can be created.
The task of building an environment of trust and confidence in the digital economy is complex: there is no magic or silver bullet. It will require a multi-stakeholder global approach and will involve concerted actions among many stakeholders: to create the requisite legal and regulatory environment; to develop voluntary codes of practice; to educate businesses, consumers and public service providers; and to create tools that are easy to use. Drawing upon the lessons of history and historical analogies, as well as examining some ideas proposed in various fora such as the OECD, ITU, IGF, ISOC, GCIG and by various experts, we shall explore some scenarios to strengthen the Internet that could lead to more security for all users. At the same time we shall review what sorts of “rules of the road” will be necessary to achieve that outcome.
Keywords: Internet, Secure Commercial Use, Issues, Challenges
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