One place that the multi-stakeholder model is on display is in the approach to Internet security. Internet security is a serious matter. Because the Internet is all about connections, a problem halfway around the world can quickly spread to become everyone's problem. The question, however, is how to reduce these incidents without creating problems that are worse, and without choking off innovation, the flow of information and individual choice.
An enormous amount of attention is already being focused on the different aspects of security by technical groups, policy-makers, law-enforcement bodies, businesses and end users. While we haven't eradicated the problem, these different groups are working on ways to handle it while making appropriate trade-offs. Security is one of those areas where the collective work of different groups is vital. The solutions won't come overnight, but they will come. We could go ahead trying to score rhetorical points, but there is too much at stake for us to waste resources on that. Many emerging economies are far behind developed economies when it comes to infrastructure development and percentage of citizens online, diminishing their ability to participate in the global Internet economy. We need to close the gap.
The potential payoff is huge -- and not only for the world's unconnected. The Internet's growth has already led to an explosion of amazing applications. It's exciting to imagine what may come in the next burst of innovation, and as the remaining two-thirds of the world's population comes online.
But in order for this to happen, we need to stop talking past one another and work together. If we do, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.
Lynn St. Amour is president and chief executive of the Internet Society.
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