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Working Paper: A vision for the future internet

Read our new working paper, setting out NGI Forward's ambitious vision for the future of the internet.

To coincide with the Next Generation Internet (NGI) Policy Summit on 28 and 29 September, we are launching a working paper and kick-starting a discussion about the policy vision and roadmap we want to set for the Next Generation Internet.

The European Commission’s ambitious Next Generation EU recovery plan aims to not just kickstart economic growth and boost employment, but also
use this moment as an opportunity to catalyse the digital and green twin transition.

The internet and its supporting technologies will be instrumental in making these efforts a success, but we cannot harness its full power unless we solve the underlying, systemic issues currently holding it back.

That is why, in this working paper, we set out an ambitious vision and mission framework to create a more democratic, resilient, sustainable, trustworthy and inclusive internet by 2030.

There is no single silver bullet solution that can help resolve all the challenges presented by connected technologies and the digital economy. Instead, we need a wide variety of interventions to reach our objectives, targeting issues across all layers of the internet’s power stack — from its underlying physical infrastructures to the ways in which information flows through the system and impacts our societies.

Challenges across the layers of our power stack model

We propose unifying the ambitious objectives of the Next Generation Internet initiative into one single mission, to sit alongside the ambitious missions previously defined by the European Commission.

Taking such a mission-based approach will empower policymakers and the public sector to take a holistic view, articulate a compelling European story, and mobilise the right actors in Europe’s diverse technology ecosystem to bring about the changes we want to see.

We focus our efforts on five key pillars: 

Democracy: Power over the internet is concentrated in too few hands. Citizens should have more ownership over their own personal data and identity, and a real voice in the development of new innovation. Building a more democratic internet also means levelling the playing field in the digital economy, allowing more actors to meaningfully compete, and public-interest initiatives to thrive. 

Resilience: A human-centric internet also needs to be resilient in order to ensure the continued reliability and sustainability of its networks and social infrastructures. Mounting cyberthreats, climate shocks and rising demand impact different layers of the system, and require renovation and more secure processes to remain robust. 

Sustainability: If we want the internet and related digital technologies to play a role in solving the climate emergency and further the objectives of the European Green Deal, we need to ensure we minimise their own environmental footprint and advance the circular digital economy. 

Trust: From reading an article on social media to making an online payment — trust in and on the internet is vital if we want to make most of its promise. Europe needs more trustworthy models for online interactions, reliable information, data-sharing and identity management, as well as helping to ease growing distrust in the geopolitical arena. 

Inclusion: The internet needs to be accessible to all. This means removing economic and infrastructural barriers to access, but also the development of a flourishing multilingual internet, where services are available and safe to use for underrepresented communities.

You can download the full report here: