The role of infrastructure in enabling innovation cannot be understated. Without roads and electricity, humanity would not have been able to create the products we take for granted today. Starting any company requires leveraging existing infrastructure, and open access to it is what allows for innovation and allows companies to focus on their incremental unique value.
As a society, we should strive to make infrastructure layers, such as roads and electricity, equally accessible while creating rules and regulations to maximize their value and ensure our safety. For example, we do not hold car manufacturers accountable for how vehicles are used, but we did establish safety guidelines, usage regulations, and laws to enforce proper usage. Similarly, electricity companies are not held accountable for how electricity or appliances are used, but rules and regulations are set in place to ensure equal access to this resource while maximizing its value and safety for consumers.
The Internet is no different. Internet neutrality and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act designed to allow anyone to innovate and create on top of the internet, aiming to maximize the consumer benefit.
If we consider the Internet, as a form of infrastructure, similar to electricity, we need to think about how we can maximize consumer benefit and safety while using it. This means considering four components: consumer value, user experience, safety, and privacy.
Open and equal access to the Internet is essential for maximizing its value and ensuring its continued use for innovation. This means creating interoperable standards that allow companies to collaborate for the benefit of consumers while also protecting their privacy and enhancing safety. However, the battles between big tech companies have raised concerns about the accessibility and fairness of this infrastructure. These companies have built their own platforms on top of the Internet, creating a new form of infrastructure that may not be equally accessible to all. This impacts competition and innovation can lead to potential safety and privacy issues for consumers.
It is crucial that regulators define today’s infrastructure layers and ensure they are accessible to everyone. We should not expect future entrepreneurs to have to reinvent roads, electricity, the Internet, operating systems, app stores, smartphones and browsers, just to create a new service. Instead, we must work together to create a balanced and fair infrastructure that enables innovation and protects consumers.
Privacy is a tricky topic, as it is not always clear what constitutes good privacy and what risks consumers assume so they can make their own choices. Legislators and regulators must provide clear answers to these questions to create an organized and enforceable infrastructure for the Internet.
The Internet is a vital piece of infrastructure that requires careful consideration and regulation to ensure equal access, consumer safety, and privacy. By prioritizing these components, we can continue to innovate and build upon the Internet without jeopardizing its potential.
Privacy and user experience can and should coexist and are not mutually exclusive. This is why it is crucial that we create the necessary technology and legislation to support innovation and creativity. This means creating interoperable standards, defining the rules of the game, and ensuring that the Internet remains open for innovation by all. By doing so, we can foster a digital landscape where our children, the future entrepreneur, can dream big and leverage the future infrastructure layers to innovate beyond our wildest dreams.
As regulators, it is your job to make this a reality. We trust that you will take the necessary steps to prioritize the safety, value, user experience and privacy in the digital world. It is not an easy task, but it is crucial for consumers and the future of our society.
Note: The assistance of ChatGPT helped me to express my thoughts as a non-native English speaker in a clearer and more concise manner. These ideas have been in my mind for a long time, and ChatGPT enabled me to put them into a readable format. I am grateful for the support provided by this AI tool in improving the clarity and coherence of my writing.