Jinfo BlogWho are the internet intermediaries?

Tuesday, 20th April 2010 Sign in to MyJinfo or create an account be able to star items Click for printable version Subscribe via RSS to get updates as soon as Blog items are added Tweet about this item on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

By Anne Jordan

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A new report from the OECD aims to answer this question, defining internet intermediaries and looking at their economic and social role. At a time when national governments are grappling with legislation to encourage the digital economy, this report steps back and provides a great overview in Part I of a larger project on internet intermediaries. “The economic and social role of internet intermediaries” (http://digbig.com/5bbktk) defines internet intermediaries as those who “give access to, host, transmit and index content originated by third parties or provide Internet-based services to third parties.” They are mainly from the business sector and span a wide range of activities including “ISPs, data processing and web hosting providers, Internet search engines and portals, e-commerce intermediaries, Internet payment systems, and participative networked platforms.” For LiveWire readers who research this area, the report brings together a range of statistics and provides tables such as Revenue of top 30 Internet firms 2009, Global ICT developments per 100 inhabitants 1998-2009, and Number of web servers worldwide 2000-2010. However, the author of the report recognises that the nature and role of intermediaries are evolving, and that her report only provides a brief snapshot in time. The introduction states that the internet economy “provides a key engine for economic and social development at both the global and national levels” and recognises that effective co-operation between governments and internet intermediaries is crucial. A sobering thought for the politicians who rushed the Digital Economy Bill through the UK parliament in the final hours before the election was announced. The Bill was passed after a short, late-night airing in the House of Commons, though without the proposed fixed phone line levy to fund ultra-fast speeds. However, it includes clumsy clauses that could theoretically block sites if anyone claims they are used for copyright infringement. The Guardian has reported on the backlash following the vote at http://digbig.com/5bbktn with the accompanying photo showing a disappointingly empty chamber. Perhaps this OECD report should be required reading for our MPs, particularly the minister who was apparently under the impression that “IP address” referred to “intellectual property”, rather than internet protocol.

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