Heavy Influence by Few Players Impacts Innovation, Interoperability, Regulation and Resiliency
The Internet Society (ISOC), a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet, today released the “2019 Global Internet Report – Consolidation in the Internet Economy.” The report notes the growing influence of a few powerful players in the Internet economy, and it explores what that could mean for the future of digital communications, connectivity and commerce.
According to the report, the outsized sway of companies such as of Alibaba, Amazon, Facebook and Google already has altered and will continue to change the nature of the Internet, which moved into the mainstream with the promise of creating a level playing field on which people and organizations of all sizes could take their positions.
These industry giants already dominate the web and other Internet applications, and now they’re expanding into new service and content areas as they work to retain existing customers and fuel revenue growth.
The Internet Society emphasizes that the large and growing influence of a handful of key Internet players isn’t necessarily good or bad. However, a recent survey* conducted by the organization reveals more than half of Americans (58%) are concerned that a lack of competition will have negative implications for the future of the Internet. Another 56% of U.S. consumers have concerns that continued consolidation could limit their choices for applications and services.
On the upside, feature-rich cloud platforms from these powerful companies enable businesses of all sizes to enter new markets and operate at speeds and scale not otherwise possible. Such large organizations also have developed and advanced technical innovation and enabled widespread adoption of important industry standards like IPv6.
But there are also risks when a small group of large players has so much control, the report adds. These concerns include:
- the potential for more limited marketplace choice
- how the lack of platform diversity may create significant economic dependencies, including the risk that companies will become too big to fail
- the impact on interoperability and standardization
- regulatory responses to consolidation that may have unintended consequences to the global Internet
As a result, the report suggests, key stakeholders need to assess how best to address industry concentration as it relates to customer choice, interoperability, regulation and resiliency.
“This Global Internet Report tells us that the Internet Society has a great deal of work to do,” said Internet Society President and CEO Andrew Sullivan. “We must understand what concentration and consolidation on the Internet mean, both for its architecture and for the wider society that depends on it. We must understand what is really happening to the Internet in order to ensure that we build the Internet for everyone.”
About the Internet Society
Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society (ISOC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure and advocates for policies that enable universal access. The Internet Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
*Survey Methodology: Internet Society polled more than 500 website users of all genders between ages 18 and 75 in February 2019 in the Google Surveys Publisher Network.