The Internet Society has launched the first-ever regulatory assessment toolkit that defines the critical properties needed to protect and enhance the future of the Internet.
The Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit is a guide to help ensure regulation, technology trends and decisions don’t harm the infrastructure of the Internet. It describes the Internet at its optimal state – a network of networks that is universally accessible, decentralized and open; facilitating the free and efficient flow of knowledge, ideas and information.
Critical properties of the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit
The five critical properties identified by the IWN are:
- An accessible infrastructure with a common protocol – A ‘common language’ enabling global connectivity and unrestricted access to the Internet.
- An open architecture of interoperable and reusable building blocks – Open infrastructure with a set of standards enabling permission-free innovation.
- Decentralized management and a single distributed routing system – Distributed routing enabling local networks to grow, while maintaining worldwide connectivity.
- Common global identifiers – A single common identifier allowing computers and devices around the world to communicate with each other.
- A technology neutral, general-purpose network – A simple and adaptable dynamic environment cultivating infinite opportunities for innovation.
When combined, these properties form the unique foundation that underpins the Internet’s success and are essential for its healthy evolution. The closer the Internet aligns with the IWN, the more open and agile it is for future innovation and the broader benefits of collaboration, resiliency, global reach and economic growth.
“The Internet’s ability to support the world through a global pandemic is an example of the Internet Way of Networking at its finest,” explains Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Senior VP for a Strong Internet, Internet Society. “Governments didn’t need to do anything to facilitate this massive global pivot in how humanity works, learns and socializes. The Internet just works – and it works thanks to the principles that underpin its success.”
A resource for policymakers and technologists
The Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit will serve as an important resource to help policymakers and technologists ensure trends in regulatory and technical proposals don’t harm the unique architecture of the Internet. The toolkit explains why each property of the IWN is crucial to the Internet and the social and economic consequences that can arise when any of these properties are damaged.
For instance, the Toolkit shows how China’s restrictive networking model severely impacts its global reach and hinders collaboration with networks beyond its borders. It also highlights how the US administration’s Clean Network proposal challenges the Internet’s architecture by dictating how networks interconnect according to political considerations rather than technical considerations.
“We’re seeing a trend of governments encroaching on parts of the Internet’s infrastructure to try and solve social and political problems through technical means. Ill-informed regulation can drastically alter the Internet’s fundamental architecture and harm the ecosystem that supports it,” continues Hall. “We’re giving both policymakers and Internet users the information and tools to make sure they don’t break this resource that brings connectivity, innovation, and empowerment to everyone.”