Following the cutting off of Internet access to civilians in Belarus and introducing the ‘Clean Network program’ and banning Chinese apps such TikTok and WeChat by the Trump administration, the Internet Society, has decided to launch the first-ever regulatory assessment toolkit that defines the critical properties needed to protect and enhance the future of the Internet.

The global nonprofit organization that promotes the development and use of an open, globally-connected and secure Internet, said the Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit is based on the newly-published paper, Internet Way of Networking (IWN): Defining the Critical Properties of the Internet, that explains how the Internet’s unique foundation is responsible for its strength and success.

Hitherto, there has been no tool to assess how the proposed regulation and technology trends affect the Internet’s architecture. But the IS’s toolkit will identify the critical properties that must be protected to enable the Internet to reach its full potential.

“From the news of Belarus cutting off civilian access to parts of the Internet during protests over the disputed election to the Trump administration introducing the ‘Clean Network program’ and banning Chinese apps, TikTok and WeChat, a raft of proposals to control the Internet has left it at increasing risk of becoming the “Splinternet,” a less resilient, efficient, dynamic and open network,” IS expressed worries.

The Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit is a guide to help ensure regulation, technology trends and decisions don’t harm the infrastructure of the Internet. It describes the Internet at its optimal state – a network of networks that is universally accessible, decentralized and open; facilitating the free and efficient flow of knowledge, ideas and information.

The five critical properties identified by the IWN are:

  • An Accessible Infrastructure with a Common Protocol – A ‘common language’ enabling global connectivity and unrestricted access to the Internet
  • An Open Architecture of Interoperable and Reusable Building Blocks – Open infrastructure with a set of standards enabling permission-free innovation
  • Decentralized Management and a Single Distributed Routing System – Distributed routing enabling local networks to grow, while maintaining worldwide connectivity
  • Common Global Identifiers – A single common identifier allowing computers and devices around the world to communicate with each other
  • A Technology Neutral, General-purpose Network – A simple and adaptable dynamic environment cultivating infinite opportunities for innovation

The Internet Society believes when combined, these properties form the unique foundation that underpins the Internet’s success and are essential for its healthy evolution. The closer the Internet aligns with the IWN, the more open and agile it is for future innovation and the broader benefits of collaboration, resiliency, global reach and economic growth.

“The Internet’s ability to support the world through a global pandemic is a good example of the Internet Way of Networking at its finest. Governments didn’t need to do anything to facilitate this massive global pivot in how humanity works, learns and socializes. The Internet just works – and it works thanks to the principles that underpin its success,” explains Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Senior Vice President for a Strong Internet, Internet Society

The Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit will serve as an important resource to help policymakers and technologists ensure trends in regulatory and technical proposals don’t harm the unique architecture of the Internet. The toolkit explains why each property of the IWN is crucial to the Internet and the social and economic consequences that can arise when any of these properties are damaged.


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