The 2016 Internet Society Report: Areas of Impact and Concern for the Future of the Internet.

AuthorZulu, Itibari M.

In 2016, the Internet Society ( launched a project to take stock of the key forces of change that could impact the future of the Internet and engage a broad community of its members, chapters, experts and partners; thus, they conducted two global surveys that generated more than 2,500 responses from 160 countries and economies, and in addition, they interviewed more than 130 Internet experts and hosted 10 virtual roundtables. Throughout the project, the organization reaffirmed the importance of three issue areas that will likely be significantly impacted in the future: digital divides; personal freedoms and rights; and media and society, hence, core areas for the community in its focus on putting the user at the forefront when considering the future of the Internet.

Considering that the nations of Burundi, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, DRC, Uganda, Ethiopia, Niger, Togo, and others have shut down Internet service to their citizens, the Internet Society project is particularly relevant in a quest for open access to information, news and new knowledge development in Africa, and around the world.

In the nine sections of the report, herein I limit my observations to "Area of Impact: Digital Divides", "Area of Impact: Personal Freedoms and Rights," and "Area of Impact: Media and Society" that was presented in summation, ahead of the full report.

First, the area of the digital divides (the gap between those that have Internet access and those that do not) is an ongoing concern for African people of the world (and of course others who have been marginalized as a group). Accordingly, the report states that Internet connectivity is growing around the world and many within the study have expressed hopes that it will be an empowering and equalizing force between social groups and countries.

However, the ability to meaningfully participate in and benefit from the Internet in the future will likely be determined by more than the sheer ability to connect, but via an ability to use the Internet for opportunity and advancement, relative to others. And therefore, those with access only through slow connections or smart phones living in poor remote communities and regions that lag in Internet skills and advanced infrastructure are seen as particularly at risk in falling behind compared to the wealthycountries and more developed regions of the world.

Hence, will a full information apartheid or...

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