Trust and Confidence in a Secure Internet: A Public Good?

Posted: 14 Mar 2018

Date Written: March 13, 2018


Today we have near-universal availability of the Internet, with some 3.6 billion users in 200 countries worldwide. Simultaneously the intelligent mobile phone, with over 7 billion subscriptions globally, has become the most widely used communications device in the world, the access device of choice in developing countries and is often the only available device there for accessing the Internet and its associated services.

In this paper the authors will show that the building of an appropriate institutional and legal infrastructure for the global digital marketplace and its underlying Internet infrastructure, as well as the creation of commonly accepted, understandable and internationally enforceable marketplace rules which provide trust and confidence for all those who operate in that marketplace or are affected by it, is a necessary condition for the efficient functioning of a global, digital economy.

Although the Internet has transformed our economy and society, it was never designed and built for global, ubiquitous and secure commercial use. For the Internet to reach its full potential as a trusted global platform for commercial use, it must retain the trust and confidence of its users.Thus the creation of such Trust and Confidence in the Internet may be seen as analogous to creating a public good.

The positive socio-economic benefits derived from the Internet and the World Wide Web are enormous and have largely been appropriated. However, the negative developments (e.g. malware, hacking, identity theft, the dark web and organized cyber-fraud and cyber-crime) are increasing in magnitude and cost.They need to be studied more carefully and the trade-offs with the benefits understood better, so that practical and workable remedial measures can be proposed, both nationally and globally.

This paper makes the case that the status quo is untenable in the medium term. The increasing quantitative load put on the Internet by billions of vulnerable new users (e.g. mobile users) and new uses (e.g. the Internet of Things), combined with increasing net threats, will eventually degrade the public Internet unless new institutional and governance arrangements can be created.

The task of building an environment of trust and confidence in the digital economy is complex: there is no magic or silver bullet. It will require a multi-stakeholder global approach and will involve concerted actions among many stakeholders: to create the requisite legal and regulatory environment; to develop voluntary codes of practice; to educate businesses, consumers and public service providers; and to create tools that are easy to use. Drawing upon the lessons of history and historical analogies, as well as examining some ideas proposed in various fora such as the OECD, ITU, IGF, GCIG and by various experts, we shall explore some scenarios to strengthen the Internet that could lead to more security for all users, and review what sorts of “rules of the road” will be necessary to achieve that outcome.

Keywords: Secure Internet, Trust and Confidence, Multi-Stakeholder Approach

Suggested Citation

Neogi, Prabir K. and Cordell, Arthur and MacLean, Donald, Trust and Confidence in a Secure Internet: A Public Good? (March 13, 2018). TPRC 46: The 46th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2018, Available at SSRN:

Prabir K. Neogi (Contact Author)

Carleton University ( email )

1869 Stonehenge Crescent
Ottawa, Ontario K1B4N7
6137462329 (Phone)

Arthur Cordell

Carleton University

1125 colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6

Donald MacLean


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics