Figuring Out the Future

TheĀ Internet Association‘s (IA) March 5th event, “The Internet, the Economy, and the Future”, brought together public and private sector representatives to discuss a variety of topics, including privacy, patent reform, and the impact of the Internet on the economy.

One major question to come out of the event was the question of how Congress can, as Representative Issa (CA-49) put it, “empower” rather than “control” the web. Members recognize that it is, in the words of Representative Hoyer (MD-5), an “extraordinary, unbelievable and powerful tool,” one which, according to IA, has been responsible forĀ 21% of GDP growth in advanced economies over the past five years and supports $8 trillion in e-commerce per year.

The challenge for Congress, and really for all Internet stakeholders, is to find ways of keeping the good and addressing the bad. The event also covered what Senator Wyden (OR) called “indisputably real” cybersecurity threats, and patent trolls that, according to IA, claim more than 10% of what companies could spend on R&D. Cybersquatting, which CADNA seeks to address through its advocacy and education, is another issue that threatens the economy through lost sales, lost impressions, privacy breeches, and potentially harmful content.

Businesses and other Internet users have powerful voices, and responsibilities to use their voices to improve cooperation between the private sector and government. After all, the Internet is, as Yahoo!’s Senior Director for International Privacy Justin Weiss said, a “grand experiment” and everyone is a stakeholder.