In early 2018, the Internet Society conducted a global survey to gather qualitative and quantitative data from stakeholders, experts, and Internet users around the world. The survey was designed by the Global Internet Report project team based on key trends identified in the literature review .

In total, 1550 survey responses were submitted, and approximately 73% of respondents self-identified as Internet Society members. 27% of the respondents were from Latin America, with roughly the same number from Africa and Asia Pacific respectively (21%). 12% of the respondents were from North America and 16% from Europe.

These findings from the survey fed into the project team’s Phase II analysis.

Survey Questions

Part 1

  • 1.1 The ability to connect: All Internet users, wherever where they live, should be able to connect to any other point to keep the Internet as a platform for innovation, creativity and economic opportunity.
    • Q: Do you feel that you can connect to anyone and anywhere on the Internet?
  • 1.2 The ability to speak: For the Internet to work as a medium for self-expression, users need to feel they can speak freely and collaborate without restriction. Private, secure and – when appropriate – anonymous communications let us express ourselves safely and securely.
    • Q: Do you feel that you can express yourself online in a safe and secure manner?
  • 1.3 The ability to innovate: The Internet was built on open connectivity and standards development. To keep it developing, so everyone can use it to innovate, we all need to be able to develop and distribute new applications and services on it.
    • Q: Do you feel you can develop new applications and services, without governmental or private sector restrictions?
  • 1.4 The ability to share: The Internet enables sharing, learning and collaboration based on fair use, and the freedom to develop and use open source software.
    • Q: Do you feel that you can fully share and collaborate online?
  • 1.5 The ability to choose: User choice in competitive communications markets brings better, cheaper, and more varied and innovative services. Being able to choose communication and service providers lets users control their Internet experience.
    • Q: Do you feel that you can choose between Internet services?
  • 1.6 The ability to trust: Our abilities to connect, speak, innovate, share and choose all depend on trust. For us to trust Internet networks, applications and services, we need them to be secure, reliable and stable.
    • Q: Do you feel that you can trust applications and services online?

Part 2

  • Is there a trend of consolidation in the Internet Economy, as described above?
  • If you agree there is a trend of Internet consolidation, do you think it is more visible in certain countries or regions, or is it a global trend?
  • Looking just at your region, do users find their app and service choices to be limited?
  • Have you noticed the larger players in the Internet economy increasingly influencing standardization for networking, technology, software and interoperability?
  • Have you observed any concentration of network traffic or Internet architecture?
  • Are there any efforts in your country/region to address concerns about market dominance in the Internet economy?
  • Do you think consolidation is a problem, and, if so, what should be done about it?
  • Over the next five years, do you expect consolidation to significantly shape the evolution of the Internet's technology and networks? (For example, by limiting the choices you have for which operators to use for gaining broadband access)
  • Over the next five years, is consolidation likely to significantly impact the scale and severity of cyber attacks and crime? (For example, by facilitating the development of malware to quickly spread viruses on commonly used platforms or browsers)
  • In the next five years, is consolidation likely to impact online freedoms and rights? (For example, by enabling surveillance or censorship, or alternatively by making it easier for people to communicate and connect?)
  • In the next five years, is consolidation likely to significantly impact national, regional or global digital divides? (For example, by bringing more or fewer people online, or by affecting the ways they can use the Internet?)
  • Over the next five years, is consolidation likely to trigger a response in government policy and regulation? (For example, through regulation that aims to limit larger Internet companies from acquiring startups if the result is reduced competition)

Survey Results

1.1 The ability to connect

All Internet users, wherever where they live, should be able to connect to any other point to keep the Internet as a platform for innovation.

Q: Do you feel that you can connect to anyone and anywhere on the Internet?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

1.2 The ability to speak

For the Internet to work as a medium for self-expression, users need to feel they can speak freely and collaborate without restriction. Private, secure and – when appropriate – anonymous communications let us express ourselves safely and securely.

Q: Do you feel that you can express yourself online in a safe and secure manner?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

 

1.3 The ability to innovate

The Internet was built on open connectivity and standards development. To keep it developing, so everyone can use it to innovate, we all need to be able to develop and distribute new applications and services on it.

Q: Do you feel you can develop new applications and services, without governmental or private sector restrictions?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

 

1.4 The ability to share

The Internet enables sharing, learning and collaboration based on fair use, and the freedom to develop and use open source software.

Q: Do you feel that you can fully share and collaborate online?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

1.5 The ability to choose

User choice in competitive communications markets brings better, cheaper, and more varied and innovative services. Being able to choose communication and service providers lets users control their Internet experience.

Q: Do you feel that you can choose between Internet services?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

 

1.6 The ability to trust

Our abilities to connect, speak, innovate, share and choose all depend on trust. For us to trust Internet networks, applications and services, we need them to be secure, reliable and stable.

Q: Do you feel that you can trust applications and services online?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

 

2.1 Is there a trend of consolidation in the Internet Economy, as described above?

Is there a trend of consolidation in the Internet Economy, as described above?
Scale: (5) Always (4) Very Often (3) Sometimes (2) Rarely (1) Never

Q2.1.A
Q2.1.B

Respondents voiced concerns about dominant positions of companies providing internet services, which affects the price negatively for the consumer, as well as concerns about the governments trying to regulate internet economy with negative impact. Another issue respondents raised was the acquisition of small companies by the dominant players and the negative impact on innovation of such developments.

2.2 If you agree there is a trend of Internet consolidation, do you think it is more visible in certain countries or regions, or is it a global trend?

Options: (1) certain countries (2) certain regions (3) global trend (4) N/A

Q2.2.A
Q2.2.B

Number of responders pointed out that there are great differences between developed and developing countries, affecting the trend of consolidation on regional level. Few respondents have mentioned China which they consider resistant from the global consolidation trend due to its form of government and having internet in a separate language.

2.3 Looking just at your region, do users find their app and service choices to be limited?

Options: Y; N; I don't know

survey-results-table (26)
survey-results-table (27)

Most of the respondents linked the choice limitations to the price of the internet service, as well as unavailability of certain services. With regards to apps, the responders pointed out the limitation of choice as a result of governmental intervention. Almost all responders understood this question as a sub question to the regional consolidation question.

2.4 Have you noticed the larger players in the Internet economy increasingly influencing standardization for networking, technology, software and interoperability?

Options: Y; N; I don't know

Q2.4.A
Q2.4.B

The respondents have mentioned Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Alibaba as large players having influence. With regards to standardisation, several responders have mentioned the functioning of IETF and the possible influence of the big players.

2.5 Have you observed any concentration of network traffic or Internet architecture?

Options: Y; N; I don't know

Q2.5.A
Q2.5.B

The respondents were undecided whether the concentration of the network is happening, and what the consequences are.

2.6 Are there any efforts in your country/region to address concerns about market dominance in the Internet economy?

Options: Y; N; I don't know

survey-results-table (35)
survey-results-table (36)

The responses in this section in majority did not comment on the issue. Some responders have mentioned the EU antitrust case against Google.

2.7 Do you think consolidation is a problem, and, if so, what should be done about it?

The respondents were split in their answers. Some of them do not see consolidation as a problem. Others considered consolidation a problem in so far as it allows for creation of monopolies. The need for governmental regulation has been mentioned by many respondents as a way to provide for a healthy competitive environment where smaller players would thrive.

2.8 Over the next five years, do you expect consolidation to significantly shape the evolution of the Internet's technology and networks? (For example by limiting the choices you have for which operators to use for gaining broadband access)

Scale: (5) very high (4) high (3) average (2) low (1) very low (0) I don't know

survey-results-table (38)
survey-results-table (39)

There is lack of substantial responses to identify what the responders were leaning towards.

2.9 Over the next five years, is consolidation likely to significantly impact the scale and severity of cyber attacks and crime? (For example by facilitating the development of malware to quickly spread viruses on commonly used platforms or browsers)

Scale: (5) very high (4) high (3) average (2) low (1) very low (0) I don't know

survey-results-table (41)
survey-results-table (42)

The respondents have identified cybersecurity as one of their main concerns. The respondents were split in their opinion on what impact consolidation will have on cyber sector. On one hand, they have stated that the bigger companies are better equipped to fight cybercrime, on the other hand, there was a concern of increased vulnerability because a cyber attack on one of the consolidated players would have a much greater impact.

2.10 In the next five years, is consolidation likely to impact online freedoms and rights? (For example, by enabling surveillance or censorship, or alternatively by making it easier for people to communicate and connect?)

Scale: (5) very high (4) high (3) average (2) low (1) very low (0) I don't know

survey-results-table (44)
survey-results-table (45)

The majority of respondents voiced concerns of consolidation negatively impacting the online freedoms and rights, as well as effects on democracy as such. Some respondents pointed out that the openness of internet and innovation would be able to fight the negative effects of consolidation in this area.

2.11 In the next five years, is consolidation likely to significantly impact national, regional or global digital divides? (For example, by bringing more or fewer people online, or by affecting the ways they can use the Internet?)

Scale: (5) very high (4) high (3) average (2) low (1) very low (0) I don't know

survey-results-table (47)
survey-results-table (48)

The majority of respondents have voiced concerns of consolidation having accelerating effect on digital divides. Some of the respondents pointed out that consolidation could bring more access to internet in the developing areas, since the large companies would have sufficient funds to do so.

2.12 Over the next five years, is consolidation likely to trigger a response in government policy and regulation? (For example through regulation that aims to limit larger Internet companies from acquiring startups if the result is reduced competition)

survey-results-table (50)
survey-results-table (51)

Most of the respondents have stated that the government policy would lead to fighting consolidation, citing examples of Bell breakup and GDPR regulations. The respondents voiced concerns related to corruption and slow process in government. Most of the respondents commented that they already see the influence of the big tech companies in the governmental policy.

Are there any other issues or developments you think will significantly affect the Internet in the next five years?

Respondents from Africa highlighted these main future issues and developments:

  • Government regulation and censorship;
  • Internet infrastructure (with a focus on accessibility in rural areas);
  • Cybersecurity and cybercrime;
  • Data privacy concerns;
  • Developments in IoT, AI, blockchain, and cloud system development

Main concerns of the respondents from the Asia Pacific region were:

  • Governmental regulation;
  • Cybersecurity;
  • Internet infrastructure (with focus on energy consumption and speed of the internet)
  • Effects of the "4th industrial revolution";
  • IoT, machine learning, blockchain, cloud computing development;
  • Net neutrality
  • Fake news
  • Data privacy

Respondents from Europe have mostly mentioned these issues:

  • Government regulation and restrictions (with a focus on GDPR as a primary example);
  • Internet Infrastructure (with a focus on connectivity);
  • Data privacy;
  • Open source platforms;
  • Net neutrality;
  • Language barriers;
  • Rise of IoT, Ai, blockchain, big data, 4G/5G technologies;

In Latin America region, the respondents brought up these issues:

  • Government regulations and restrictions;
  • Net neutrality;
  • Cybersecurity/cybercrime;
  • Internet infrastructure (with a focus on electricity consumption);
  • Personal data security
  • Internet accessibility for minors

The respondents in the Middle East were mostly concerned about these issues:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Net neutrality
  • Data privacy
  • Fake news
  • AI, IoT, blockchain, machine learning development

As for North America, the respondents highlighted these issues:

  • Government regulation/censorship (with a focus on FCC rulings);
  • Cybersecurity and cyberterrorism;
  • Internet infrastructure;
  • Data privacy
  • Security of the cloud system
  • Blockchain, 5G, IPV6 development