The World Economic Forum has launched a multi-year ?Future of the Internet Initiative? in an effort to help strengthen trust and expand concrete cooperation on Internet-related challenges and opportunities.
The informal process of strategic dialogue and cooperation will seek to complement formal institutions and existing initiatives. It will do so by leveraging the forum?s unique inter-ministerial and cross-industry communities, as well as its interdisciplinary intellectual networks and capacity to catalyze multi-stakeholder partnerships.
The purpose of the initiative is to help develop the Internet as a core engine of human progress and safeguard its globally integrated, highly distributed, and multi-stakeholder nature.
It comes at a time when policy-makers ? who are struggling to keep pace with many related policy and governance questions ? and governments seek to address legitimate policy concerns related to the increasingly diverse array of services and other activities available on the Web.
The initiative will initially focus on the following five broad areas, potentially exploring such questions as:
? Policy and societal challenges: How can international cooperation help ensure the essential globally interoperable nature of the Internet at the same time that governments seek to address legitimate social, security and other concerns in line with national preferences and decision-making processes?
? Privacy: How can the promise of big data for many aspects of social and economic progress be realized while ensuring fundamental standards of personal privacy?
? Cybercrime: How can international cooperation among companies and law enforcement and national security authorities be improved in ways that strengthen the security of and public confidence in the Internet?
? Access for all: With over half the global population not yet online, how can public-private efforts to expand Internet access and content be accelerated in developing countries and marginalized communities?
? Impact on business models: How is the Internet and digital technology likely to transform business models and alter the industrial landscape in the years to come? What new business, social and other policy challenges are these changes likely to create?
?The Internet is a shared, global resource that for over 25 years has served as a key tool for social, political and economic development. It is vital that we safeguard this shared global resource by finding ways of debating and together addressing the challenges it faces,? said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
?Striking the right balance on all these issues will require mutual understanding and trust among interested parties and stakeholders. We hope to help achieve this through additional direct dialogue, supported wherever possible by careful analysis, and invite our partners, members and constituents to engage actively in this process,? said Richard Samans, managing director and member of the managing board of the World Economic Forum.
The future of the Internet is one of 10 global challenges identified by the World Economic Forum for which accelerated progress is widely perceived to be contingent on new or expanded public-private cooperation.