The Connectivity Dilemma and the White Man’s Burden: The Role of the Private Market in the Expansion of Internet Access
RAMOS, P. H. S.; CORTELLINI, I. . The Connectivity Dilemma and the White Man?s Burden: Evaluating the role of private market in the expansion of Internet access. In: Cornell Law School's Annual Inter-University Graduate Conf, 2016, Ithaca. Cornell Law School's Annual Inter-University Graduate Conf,
14 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2022
Date Written: March 8, 2015
Internet for all remains an impossible dream. However, in a market in which data mining for advertising is the foundation of the sector, users’ data in developing countries are raw material export to fund technological growth, and the search for the pot of gold with the three billion unconnected has led large companies to play a central role on the overarching structure of Internet governance, developing their own business strategies aiming to connect the unconnected. We aim with this paper to describe the main challenges of the digital divide and the strategies that are being deployed by the private sector so as to overcome them. We propose a methodological approach that understands the digital divide challenge in four different layers - availability, affordability, awareness and appropriateness. We identify that the private sector has been giving attention to all these layers, but approaches vary. One set of strategies focus on the availability layer, especially giving people the full experience of the Internet, but fails to or even to marginally address the concerns related with the other layers. Another set of strategies has concentrated on the affordability and awareness challenges, but these arrangements have been criticized for their adverse effects on the appropriateness aspect. Mixed approaches have been recently presented, suggesting that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and both the government and international organizations should play an instrumental role balancing corporate interests and welfare concerns.
Keywords: Internet, Digital Divide, Connectivity, Development, Internet Governance.
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