|Topic:||The Internet; private leadership; public growth|
|Author:||Michael D. Gallagher|
|Title:||Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator|
|Organisation:||National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)|
Michael D. Gallagher serves as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the United State’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush on 1st July 2004, and was confirmed by the Senate on 20th November 2004. Before his confirmation, Mr Gallagher served as Acting Assistant Secretary. Prior to his appointment, Mr Gallagher served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Counselor to Secretary of Commerce Don Evans. He was the lead policy advisor to the Secretary and was responsible for the effective coordination of policy initiatives within the Commerce Department and across the Administration. Before joining the Secretary’s personal staff, Mr Gallagher served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information.
At the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) world leaders are meeting, for the first time, to highlight the critical role of Information and Communications Technologies, including the Internet, in our daily lives. The United States believes the stability and security of the Internet’s address book, the domain name and addressing system (DNS), must be preserved and that only the private sector, not government, can respond to the threats multiplying in cyberspace such as viruses and malware.
The United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) marks a truly historic chapter in the chronicles of communications technology. For the first time, world leaders are meeting to acknowledge and highlight the critical role of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including the Internet, in all facets of daily life. Throughout the WSIS process to date, stakeholders from around the world have been working to reach consensus on the principles and actions needed for continued network growth and expansion to improve prospects for freedom, democracy and economic opportunity around the world. As we meet in Tunis, therefore, it is important to recognize not only the tremendous size and significance of the Internet, but also to remember that the private sector contribution, not the presence of government oversight, has been the key success factor in the Internet’s evolution. The phenomenal trajectories of technology growth trends over the past ten years reflect the accelerating nature of ICT and the upward path of our collective ability to move ideas in every field of endeavor. Consider some examples. There are 1.4 billion mobile phones in service today, compared to 375 million in 1999. The average cost of a personal computer has dropped from US$1,500 to US$850 in ten years. Lower costs Today, random access memory (RAM) and hard-drive storage costs less than one hundredth what it did in 1993. These are concrete data that demonstrate the pervasiveness, efficiency and increasing importance of ICT to global economic, social and political development. In particular, benefits of e-commerce are part and parcel of Internet growth around the world. Metcalf’s Law has shown that the value of a network increases by the square of the number of participants who are on the network. In 1995, there were 16 million Internet users worldwide. Today, there are more than 900 million Internet users worldwide. With billions of people throughout the world to work with, to trade with, and to share information and experiences with, the United States remains committed to creating an environment that facilitates e-commerce. Privatization, competition and liberalisation are necessary to meet that goal, which relies on the ability of the private sector to drive innovation and private investment. To support continued growth of the Internet, the United States believes the stability and security of the Internet’s underlying address book, the domain name and addressing system (DNS), must be preserved. The current coordination processes for the technical management of the Internet DNS in place today are working very well. Success Ten years ago, private sector leadership in this space was an untested concept. Today, it is a proven success. The traditional bureaucracy of government decision-making is ill-suited to respond at the rapid pace required to meet the demands and the growth of the Internet. The private sector, however, does have the capability to answer the call and has done so with good results. For instance, the number of domain names reached an all-time high of 83.9 million in the second quarter of 2005. The number of registrations within the various generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) increased 31.3 per cent from January 2004 to January 2005, climbing to 46.4 million registrations. From January 2004 to January 2005, all of the gTLDs saw increased registrations. Dot-com and dot-net grew by 27 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively. Dot-org and dot-biz saw increases of 19 per cent and dot-info registrations grew by 207 per cent. The country code top-level domains for specific countries, or ccTLDs, account for 36 per cent of all domain name registrations. Innovative applications and new opportunities continue to expand robustly throughout cyberspace, but new and more complex threats are expanding as well. In the week from 17th to 23rd April 2005, six of the top ten selling software titles were anti-virus or computer security titles. Such wariness among consumers clearly indicates current priorities and the degree of risk that we all face in cyberspace. Various metrics are available to quantify the rising tide of threats. In 2004, the number of viruses encountered per thousand personal computers worldwide increased almost 50 per cent, to 392, which is up rather significantly from the 2000 figure of 91. In addition, viruses accounted for 6.1 per cent of all email received worldwide in 2004, up from 3 per cent in 2003, essentially doubling. Spam now accounts for 67 per cent of all email. Private sector innovation The private sector is unquestionably the sole capable responder to the threats at this time. Only the private sector has met the challenges multiplying in cyberspace, such as viruses, malware, and all types of malicious code. The answer has come not from government bureaucracy, but from private sector innovation. Although public policy matters related to the Internet, of course, require appropriate involvement of governments, technical matters do not. It is because the Internet is an inherently shared architecture that our mission is inherently shared. Through the WSIS process and beyond, the United States is willing and ready to engage with the rest of the world to provide the strength, the certainty, and the clarity that continued Internet growth demands. Messages that discourage investment, or otherwise slow the growth of the Internet, should not be an outcome of the WSIS process. Instead, the legacy of WSIS should be an environment that nourishes the growth of the Internet not only as a vehicle of commerce, but also as an extraordinary vehicle for freedom and personal expression. The Internet was invented, designed and first deployed in the United States. The US has shared it freely with the world. From its very beginnings, the Internet has been open and accommodating. Enlightened leadership calls for all of us to send nothing but positive signals for investment and continued growth, so that the next ten years of the Internet’s history can both build upon and outpace the extraordinary success of its last ten years.