Supporting our Internet freedom
July 28, 2014
by Mark Ollig

“The Internet is for everyone.”

This is the guiding vision of the Internet Society (ISOC), a non-profit organization with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, and Reston, VA.

ISOC, formed in 1992, recently published Global Internet Report 2014.

In this informative 146- page report, they highlight the Internet’s milestones; such as in 2003, when the number of Internet users surpassed 1 billion.

Today, the global Internet user base is closing in on 3 billion.

The China Internet Network Information Center recently announced China’s Internet user population was 632 million – making China the number one Internet user base in the world.

Of these 632 million, 572 million are accessing the Internet using mobile devices.

Meanwhile, the current US Internet user population is approximately 280 million, according to Internetlivestats.com.

India comes in third with 243 million, followed by Japan with 109 million users.

To see the current Internet country rankings, visit: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-stats1.

The ISOC 2014 report discusses the benefits and challenges of maintaining an open and sustainable Internet, and the Internet relationship between government, business, and the end user (you and me).

ISOC states we, as engaging Internet users, maintain an open and supported Internet through our participation, collaboration, sharing, commerce, and entertainment activities within it.

They describe how an actual Internet user experience may differ, depending upon the country where the user is located.

In an open Internet, all public websites, and other related Internet resources, are freely accessible to the end user.

However, some Internet network operators within certain countries are ordered to filter, and even block content or user access to otherwise legally viewable websites and social networks. This is because of a government’s regulatory policies, or specific Internet restriction enforcements.

ISOC acknowledges the Internet is a positive force for social advancement, but concedes it is not immune from governmental controls.

The Internet needs to be accessible from any location; however, a majority of those living on the planet still have no access to it.

As we approach 2015, our world still lives in a “digital divide” of those having access to quality Internet services, those having no access, and those who are unable to afford Internet services.

Barriers to this divide include areas of the globe where the deployment costs for fixed broadband Internet accessibility are very expensive, locations are sparsely populated, and potential end user incomes are low.

Bridging this divide, according to the ISOC, includes having countries provide government investment to support low-income users, developing more mobile broadband network infrastructure (which is less costly, and faster to build), and removal of certain taxes on equipment and services in order to reduce costs for end users.

Countries and their Internet providers need to uphold network confidence by wisely using technology to promote end user trust, maintain equal access to Internet sites, and protect end user privacy.

They also need to assure that public Internet content will be easily accessible to all.

ISOC wisely advises our Internet access should not be taken for granted.

This columnist suggests we need to be vigilantly on guard, adding our own voices to the discussions of the day, in order to protect our Internet freedoms.

We should not presuppose, or become apathetic, when it comes to the Internet.

Being connected to the Internet does not guarantee we will always be able to freely and easily share or access information, ideas, and views on certain topics in the future – especially if we allow large networking entities, or governmental agencies to filter, limit, or block our individual content, social commentaries, political opinions, or bandwidth access to certain websites.

We’re using the Internet to become more socially, politically, and economically engaged with each other.

This type of Internet interaction is healthy, and must not be suppressed.

We are not just staying current with the latest news, political, and social matters of the day via the Internet; we’re becoming actively involved in them.

Many of us engage in real-time conversations with others locally, nationally, and around the world using social media sites on the Internet.

The “mainstream media” regularly monitors and shares information it gleans from Internet social media streams.

The pioneers and visionaries of today’s Internet, such as Vinton Cerf, continue to speak out on the importance of the Internet remaining a freely open network.

The Internet must remain an open venue, where everyone is afforded an equal opportunity to use and contribute to its resources for the benefit of all.

The Internet provides the platform for the social media networks we use to voice our individual concerns and opinions; it’s where we converse, contribute, share knowledge, experiences, and cultures.

Using all forms of social media, we participate in the topics of the day with others who also desire to communicate within an equally available and freely open Internet.

The Global Internet Report 2014 can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/bytes-isoc.

The ISOC website is: http://www.internetsociety.org.

The Internet is for everyone.

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