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5 internet governance challenges and constraints

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

The Internet is simply too big to govern easily. As new technologies come up, we have to create new policies to govern the Internet effectively. The main challenges of Internet governance can be simplified into two.

First, it's just hard for everyone to agree on what's best for the Internet. Second, it's nearly impossible for Internet by-laws to keep up with new technologies. Imagine playing a game where the rules are constantly shifting: that's the summary of governing the Internet.


Biggest Challenges in Internet Governance

The Internet started as a tool for communication. But now, it is a central figure in the different aspects of our lives. It's not just a platform for universities to exchange information (as it was decades ago.). Now, the Internet is where we shop, learn, and even access healthcare services.

This broader role means that everyone needs to take part in the way we govern the Internet. But it's not so simple as we constantly need to grapple with Internet governance issues.

Below are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to governing the Internet.


Tech Giants

Huge tech companies are both a boon and a curse to the Internet. While they do bring never-before-seen conveniences, they can also use their power to bend the Internet to their advantage.

Tech giants are big enough to have the ability to dominate markets and control access to information. Such dominance can stifle competition and impact the flow of information and ideas. Big companies can limit the number of companies in the playing field; or swallow up smaller fledgling companies.


Geopolitics

Governments may use the Internet to surveil their citizens and control information. They can also implement laws that hinder freedom of information.

While we need governments to enforce Internet policies, over-policing could prevent innovation and even step over some fundamental human rights.


Creating an Inclusive Future

The Internet affects the lives of everyone. But its governance lies in the hands of a few organizations. This gives the broader Internet community very little say in molding its future.

We must work together so that the Internet serves the greater good and includes as many voices as possible.


The Challenge of Regulation

Unlike traditional media like television or newspapers, the Internet does not reside in one place. Because it is global and interconnected, no one country can enforce its laws on the entirety of the Internet. Getting countries to work together towards a unified policy can be a challenge. Countries can have different ideologies and views on how to run the Internet--intensifying an already difficult task.

Moreover, different organizations and governments often have conflicting ideas about how the Internet should be managed. Differences like these can lead to problems like conflicting data privacy rules and excessive corporate control.


Combatting Misinformation

The Internet is way too fragmented to manage effectively, especially when it comes to misinformation. Moreover, technology is often abused to the point where misinformation can spread like wildfire. Such unbridled spread can affect public opinion and democratic processes. There is a real danger when people base their decisions on inaccurate information.


Fighting Cybercrime

The same technologies that make our lives better also give rise to new forms of criminal activity. As we unravel technologies used for crime, cybercriminals come up with new ways to avoid detection. There's likely no end soon to crimes like phishing, hacking, identity theft, and fraud.


Closing Thoughts

There is no simple answer to the challenges in Internet governance. Countries must work together to create common rules and standards. Tech companies need to demonstrate transparency and accountability, while the rest of the Internet needs to stay vigilant to prevent the abuse of power.

Not everyone has access to the policymaking of the Internet. The Number Resource Society (NRS) exists to represent the interest of the greater good when it comes to Internet governance. Whether you are an individual or organization, a professional or a student, you can take part in the advocacy of NRS to create an Internet for all.

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