One Internet

A social compact for the digital age
Secretary-General of the OECD

The Internet is now an essential part of our lives and a critical element of the world economy. Internet penetration increased almost sevenfold in the past 15 years, from 6.5% of the world population in 2000 to 43% in 2015.

The expansion of broadband networks has already brought 3.2 billion people online worldwide. Some 116 billion devices are already connected to the Internet and this number is growing faster than the number of Internet users. Internet and software companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google have all overtaken traditional companies such as GE or Exxon Mobile.

These examples are just a foretaste of how fast the Internet is transforming our economies, our societies and our cultures. That is why we must strive to get the rules governing this incredible platform for growth and social well-being right. The “One Internet” report from the Global Commission on Internet Governance sets us on the right path.

Three lines of action in the report particularly resonate with the OECD:

First, the need to increase access for a truly inclusive global digital economy. Access to the Internet is essential to benefit from the digital economy. Yet, over 50% of the world population remains offline, most of them living in emerging and developing countries. To increase access and make it affordable, policy leaders must encourage private investments and promote competition among providers, while increasing digital literacy. But we must also support governments in developing countries who want to provide free access internet spaces for their citizens.

Second, the importance of promoting Internet openness. The Internet is a global network of networks. We can capture its full potential only if we preserve the global free flow of information and promote the cross-border delivery of services. As the report notes, the open and accessible qualities of the Internet are the very qualities that encourage creativity and innovation. This is why the OECD has made Internet Openness and Innovation one of the four themes of our ministerial meeting on the digital economy this June.

Third, the undisputed necessity of building an environment of trust. Lately, many important companies such as Target, Home Depot, eBay or LinkedIn reported hacks and data breaches. Public safety is challenged when criminal and terrorist networks exploit the Internet, while important financial losses can result from cybercrime. We need to do more to strengthen trust across borders. Policy leaders, the private sector and civil society must join forces to effectively manage digital risks. Otherwise, as the report notes, users will modify their behaviour, and the online engagement that has made the Internet such a successful platform for growth, development and innovation will be eroded.

Besides these key areas of action, the report also touches upon a wide range of forward-looking aspects that are worth pointing out. It includes a framework to understand the Internet as an ecosystem of technologies, protocols, hardware, software and content, as well as recommendations to ensure human rights for digital citizens.

The report is also a call on governments, corporations, civil society, the technical community and individuals to create a new social compact for the digital age: a social compact that may bring about a completely new mode of interaction, of exchange of ideas, of negotiation that could also enhance policymaking processes in all areas, with the idea of making them increasingly open, transparent and, in the end, democratic.

Getting Internet governance right has never been more pressing. In the past few years, we have benefited significantly from the expansion of the Internet, the most powerful information system the world has yet seen. But this outstanding evolution has brought new challenges that we must address, collectively, if we want to keep an accessible, inclusive, secure and trustworthy Internet. Count on the OECD to help achieve these goals and develop better digital policies for a better world.

Twitter @A_Gurria


Adapted from remarks delivered at Cancún, Mexico, 21 June 2016. The speech can be read in full here.

©OECD Observer No 307 Q3 2016





Economic data

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa. blogs.worldbank.org
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017