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The Internet is Finally Legal, So Now What?

Finally the internet has reached adulthood celebrating its 21st birthday last month. But the big question that everyone has it what happens next? Does the internet finish college and finally move out of mom and dad’s basement then move on and get a real job?

It might sound like a joke but these are actually close to the real concerns of people who have followed the path of internet since its birth. With some 2.3 billion users the ‘technological superhighway’ is getting pretty darn crowded. Just like when the kids grow up and get to a certain age, the infrastructure begins to have a more difficult time supporting them (hint: get a job). In the same way as things keep changing on the internet there is a rapid increase in demand for bandwidth.

Over the next 4 to 5 years it has been estimated that global IP traffic will quadruple approaching or surpassing 19 billion connections. That is going to be a hefty investment for bandwidth support as well as dealing with the needs of mobile access which is now the most prevailing form of access to the web. While people seem to think that internet is now part of our rights at birth, much like Facebook, the bottom line is that people have to pay for this entire infrastructure that everyone uses.

It is like dealing with highways in the U.S., people expect them to be there and hardly ever consider the costs footed by the government to maintain them unless it is around election time and a bill is on the docket that includes raising taxes to cover those specific costs.

Last but not least with the continual growth of this virtual playground, crime has found its way into the neighborhood with criminal activity, cyber terrorism, pornography, and a whole slew of similar issues. Combined with wants for profit and structure needs these are the reasons why there is a battle for who gets the internet.

As A Business, What Do You Need to Know

The first thing to understand is that people are actively working towards figuring out ways to control the internet. Governments and large corporations are already struggling to regulate and control what they can. ICANN, the U.S. Government, China, and even Google to an extent are busy trying to do what they can to develop layers of structure. Many Euro countries already have the ability to control services and content as well as allow the authorities to easily intervene when problems occur. On the other side the community of users wants to be free and not tied down to specific rules and structure! This is more apparent within the cyber world of the U.S. compared to other regions.

The most obvious concern is if true freedom wins out then less money will be pushed into the system to support the infrastructures because of the lack of control as well as return on the products. This could have a huge impact on the way the web world is used with possible volatile situations developing.

Self-regulation seems to devolve into no-regulation rather easily and someone needs to establish a baseline for what is acceptable and what isn’t, otherwise who knows what the landscape will look like.

What Should You Do?

While most people will not be in a position to control things as they develop, you can be aware of how things are changing and be involved in accommodating change. Steps should be taken by chief information officers and business leaders to consider the issues and make sure your future plans consider the possibilities of change in any direction.

The internet shouldn’t just be taken for granted; but it often is until something breaks and then people are up-in-arms about it. Scenario planning should be done to determine the types of problems your business might face as well strategies to adapt to changes and understand how to maintain your own activities no matter what happens.

It takes some effort to look around and see the signs but they are there; demand for control, a desire for freedom, and of course the drive to make a profit on the internet. Those companies that start planning now will be in a better position when shifts happen and then manage that change as it does happen. That is the big difference in running a proactive business versus a reactive one. When you consider what a big tool the internet has become for all businesses it makes sense to work with foresight and always try and be as proactive as possible otherwise you will probably end up in a very challenging position.

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