The Internet economy: Towards a better future
Can you remember life before the Internet? Though quite a new technology, already a world without the web has become as unthinkable for many of us as a world without telephones. But what of the future? Can the benefits of this extraordinary technology be multiplied, and how can the thornier challenges be met?
The Future of the Internet Economy will be the subject of the first OECD ministerial meeting ever to be hosted in Asia. Taking place 17-18 June 2008 in Seoul, Korea (see below), it will examine the implications of the rapid growth in the use of the Internet for our economies and societies and the policies needed for continued growth.
How times have changed since the OECD convened its first-ever ministerial conference on e-commerce in Ottawa, Canada, in 1998. Then, the Internet was only just becoming mainstream, and that meeting tried to make sense of it all. Strategic direction was given to policies in many areas that still concern us today, such as access, privacy, taxation and consumer protection, directions that have been instrumental in nurturing online activity and helping to make it a part of our daily lives.
But a great deal of “Internet time” has passed since that Ottawa meeting. Back then, Google was a month old, and was still operating in a garage with just three employees. Amazon and eBay were fledgling ventures, but have since gone on to become successful mainstream companies. And in the last few years, new services, such as iTunes, Skype and YouTube, have become part of the daily vocabulary of millions of people around the world.
Underneath, the network’s infrastructure has also fundamentally transformed in the last decade. Dial-up Internet access has given way to always-on broadband technology.