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The Future of the Internet Economy

RAND Europe have just published a discussion paper on the Future of the Internet Economy, prepared for the Dutch government. Worth a look:

Openness and transparency are essential character traits of the Internet economy and should be embraced by governments as necessary components to deal with issues of privacy, security and active inclusive participation. The creative and entrepreneurial individual – organised or not – is at the heart of this development and the open Internet is his habitat. In this world government does not only ‘govern’ but facilitates, enables, shares, empowers, creates awareness and stimulates trust. Government will also retain an important role in ensuring effective competition and supporting innovation, through the use of open standards and the application of intelligent but not overly restrictive IPR policies, which support the innovators and not the concentration of market power.

National and international government cannot effectively control or regulate this space and needs to embrace industry, service providers and other stakeholders in self-governing and co-regulatory arrangements. Governments may back these up and strengthen them through political, financial and sometimes regulatory means.

The virtual and the real world abide to many of the same rules, with human rights and respect for personal space as guiding principles. Also there are risks and benefits like in the real world, which need to be understood and managed. Yet at the same time it seems important to only take measures in areas where it is seen to be necessary, because of facts, rather then because of assumptions, in order to avoid that unnecessary barriers are created that would stop innovation in technology and its application in ways that may well be of benefit to society at large. The Internet economy is truly global and diverse, which creates many interesting opportunities for all, and connectivity and access for all should be supported wholeheartedly, notwithstanding some of the risks.

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