Network Working Group
Request for Comments: 3271
Category: Informational
V. Cerf
Internet Society
April 2002

The Internet is for Everyone

Status of this Memo

This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

Copyright © The Internet Society (2002). All Rights Reserved.


   This document expresses the Internet Society's ideology that the
   Internet really is for everyone.  However, it will only be such  if
   we make it so.

1. The Internet is for everyone

How easy to say - how hard to achieve!

How have we progressed towards this noble goal?

The Internet is in its 14th year of annual doubling since 1988. There are over 150 million hosts on the Internet and an estimated 513 million users, world wide.

By 2006, the global Internet is likely to exceed the size of the global telephone network, if it has not already become the telephone network by virtue of IP telephony. Moreover, as many as 1.5 billion Internet-enabled appliances will have joined traditional servers, desk tops and laptops as part of the Internet family. Pagers, cell phones and personal digital assistants may well have merged to become the new telecommunications tools of the next decade. But even at the scale of the telephone system, it is sobering to realize that only half of the Earth's population has ever made a telephone call.

It is estimated that commerce on the network will reach somewhere between $1.8T and $3.2T by 2003. That is only two years from now (but a long career in Internet years).

The number of Internet users will likely reach over 1000 million by the end of the year 2005, but that is only about 16% of the world's population. By 2047 the world's population may reach about 11 billion. If only 25% of the then world's population is on the Internet, that will be nearly 3 billion users.

As high bandwidth access becomes the norm through digital subscriber loops, cable modems and digital terrestrial and satellite radio links, the convergence of media available on the Internet will become obvious. Television, radio, telephony and the traditional print media will find counterparts on the Internet - and will be changed in profound ways by the presence of software that transforms the one-way media into interactive resources, shareable by many.

The Internet is proving to be one of the most powerful amplifiers of speech ever invented. It offers a global megaphone for voices that might otherwise be heard only feebly, if at all. It invites and facilitates multiple points of view and dialog in ways unimplementable by the traditional, one-way, mass media.

   The Internet can facilitate democratic practices in unexpected ways.
   Did you know that proxy voting for stock shareholders is now commonly
   supported on the Internet?  Perhaps we can find additional ways in
   which to simplify and expand the voting franchise in other domains,
   including the political, as access to Internet increases.

The Internet is becoming the repository of all we have accomplished as a society. It has become a kind of disorganized "Boswell" of the human spirit. Be thoughtful in what you commit to email, news groups, and other Internet communication channels - it may well turn up in a web search some day. Thanks to online access to common repositories, shared databases on the Internet are acting to accelerate the pace of research progress.

   The Internet is moving off the planet!  Already, interplanetary
   Internet is part of the NASA Mars mission program now underway at the
   Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  By 2008 we should have a well-functioning
   Earth-Mars network that serves as a nascent backbone of an inter-
   planetary system of Internets - InterPlaNet is a network of
   Internets!  Ultimately, we will have interplanetary Internet relays
   in polar solar orbit so that they can see most of the planets and
   their associated interplanetary gateways for most, if not all of the

The Internet Society is launching a new campaign to facilitate access to and use of Internet everywhere. The campaign slogan is "Internet is for everyone," but there is much work needed to accomplish this objective.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if it isn't affordable by all that wish to partake of its services, so we must dedicate ourselves to making the Internet as affordable as other infrastructures so critical to our well-being. While we follow Moore's Law to reduce the cost of Internet-enabling equipment, let us also seek to stimulate regulatory policies that take advantage of the power of competition to reduce costs.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if Governments restrict access to it, so we must dedicate ourselves to keeping the network unrestricted, unfettered and unregulated. We must have the freedom to speak and the freedom to hear.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if it cannot keep up with the explosive demand for its services, so we must dedicate ourselves to continuing its technological evolution and development of the technical standards the lie at the heart of the Internet revolution. Let us dedicate ourselves to the support of the Internet Architecture Board, the Internet Engineering Steering Group, the Internet Research Task Force, the Internet Engineering Task Force and other organizations dedicated to developing Internet technology as they drive us forward into an unbounded future. Let us also commit ourselves to support the work of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers - a key function for the Internet's operation.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be until in every home, in every business, in every school, in every library, in every hospital in every town and in every country on the Globe, the Internet can be accessed without limitation, at any time and in every language.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if it is too complex to be used easily by everyone. Let us dedicate ourselves to the task of simplifying the Internet's interfaces and to educating all that are interested in its use.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if legislation around the world creates a thicket of incompatible laws that hinder the growth of electronic commerce, stymie the protection of intellectual property, and stifle freedom of expression and the development of market economies. Let us dedicate ourselves to the creation of a global legal framework in which laws work across national boundaries to reinforce the upward spiral of value that the Internet is capable of creating.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if its users cannot protect their privacy and the confidentiality of transactions conducted on the network. Let us dedicate ourselves to the proposition that cryptographic technology sufficient to protect privacy from unauthorized disclosure should be freely available, applicable and exportable. Moreover, as authenticity lies at the heart of trust in networked environments, let us dedicate ourselves to work towards the development of authentication methods and systems capable of supporting electronic commerce through the Internet.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if parents and teachers cannot voluntarily create protected spaces for our young people for whom the full range of Internet content still may be inappropriate. Let us dedicate ourselves to the development of technologies and practices that offer this protective flexibility to those who accept responsibility for providing it.

Internet is for everyone - but it won't be if we are not responsible in its use and mindful of the rights of others who share its wealth. Let us dedicate ourselves to the responsible use of this new medium and to the proposition that with the freedoms the Internet enables comes a commensurate responsibility to use these powerful enablers with care and consideration. For those who choose to abuse these privileges, let us dedicate ourselves to developing the necessary tools to combat the abuse and punish the abuser.

Internet is for everyone - even Martians!

I hope Internauts everywhere will join with the Internet Society and like-minded organizations to achieve this, easily stated but hard to attain goal. As we pass the milestone of the beginning of the third millennium, what better theme could we possibly ask for than making the Internet the medium of this new millennium?

Internet IS for everyone - but it won't be unless WE make it so.

2. Security Considerations

This document does not treat security matters, except for reference to the utility of cryptographic techniques to protect confidentiality and privacy.

3. References

   [1] Internet Society -
   [2] Internet Engineering Task Force -

[3] Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers -
   [4] Cerf's slides:
   [5] Interplanetary Internet -
   [6] Internet history -

4. Author's Addresses

Vint Cerf
former Chairman and President, Internet Society
January 2002

Sr. Vice President, Internet Architecture and Technology WorldCom
22001 Loudoun County Parkway, F2-4115
Ashburn, VA 20147


5. Full Copyright Statement

Copyright © The Internet Society (2002). All Rights Reserved.

This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are included on all such copies and derivative works. However, this document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than English.

The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.



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