Why the Internet Infrastructure Coalition is Essential in the Post Snowden World
The Internet Infrastructure Coalition brings together the diverse community that builds the physical Internet. Though the Internet Infrastructure industry is generally thought of as a group dominated by large telecommunications firms and a few dominant Internet powerhouses, the companies that build and provide the vast majority of the world’s Internet infrastructure are small to medium-sized businesses. These companies provide the foundation on which the entire digital economy is built. These companies are diverse and serve the needs of a nearly endless series of technical niche groups, many of which drive innovation and economic growth. These companies are the Internet, in its most pure and basic ‘nuts and bots’ form.
The PRISM centered revelations have required companies within this industry, at the very least, to begin to re-examine their privacy policies. Companies want to ensure that they can uphold the privacy promises they are making to customers. Privacy has always been an important demand from customers, and right now many companies in this industry are reassessing how to approach privacy guarantees. As this industry moves forward, companies within this space are looking to the i2Coalition to begin to collate and report on data surrounding the undetermined economic impact caused by the erosion of consumer confidence in online adoption that many assume is underway in the aftermath of PRISM revelations.
The Internet infrastructure industry is comprised of approximately 35,000 businesses – most smaller businesses – that generate billions in yearly revenue and is growing at a rate that far outpaces most of the US and world economies. Beyond the direct economic impact of this industry lies the far larger economic impact of every online business in the world, which this industry empowers. Since the entire digital economy sits on our infrastructure, the importance of our industry as an economic growth engine requires the acknowledgment of a large multiplier effect.
The way it stands today every new economic growth opportunity seems to have a large online component. Watching the Internet infrastructure industry is therefore like watching a canary in a coal mine. If it is thriving and healthy, then the rest of the digital economy – and indeed the general economy – is likely to be on a path of growth as well. If growth slows in the industry, it tends to be as a result of one or more of these factors:
1) Existing businesses opting not to modernize or expand
2) Developing nations and communities slowing their migrations online
3) The startup economy not flourishing and innovating
While many sources contribute to influencing these three factors, consumer confidence is one of the most important. Internet legislation, and the way governments treat data, are key to consumer confidence and adoption online. This goes far beyond economically driven uses for Internet infrastructure. The Internet is changing the world in a myriad of ways, including ones that aid in the fight for human rights, the fight against war, poverty, famine and lack of education or access to information. The resources that the companies who build the Internet provide are changing the world.
Rather than focusing on an aspect or type of market within the Internet community, i2Coalition’s member companies are the root of the online ecosystem. As i2Coalition seeks to quantify the potential ramifications of the Snowden revelations on consumer confidence online, we will continue to educate lawmakers about the potential ramifications of bad Internet policy to help preserve the global Internet growth economy.