People from across the world met for a day and a half in October 2015, to consider:

  • What would it mean to have a truly “People-Centered Internet”?
  • What can we do to get there?

We identified desirable properties for a People-Centered Internet, and interventions that could lead to their realization. Read on for a summary of our discussion. If you are interested in following or participating in this work, let us know.


October 24-25 meeting at Stanford University

The Internet can be a powerful means to continuously improve people’s lives. It deepens the layers of connections between countries, communities, businesses, social benefit enterprises and international agencies. We recognize that the greatest barriers to digital opportunity are both social and economic, and that the heights of these barriers require us to “think anew and to act anew.” (A. Lincoln, 1862)

click photo for a complete list of those present

Click the photo for a complete list of those present.

The Internet is a powerful instrument for two essential complementary movements: Empower People – augment their human capital (health and education), raise their collective voice and improve the business and natural environment. Transform Institutions and Organizations (public agencies, businesses, civil society organizations) – engage the power of Internet and digital technologies with social intermediaries, innovators and connectors. Community leadership and civil society organizations are crucial in augmenting the voice of the global poor and all others left out, with the social connections and digital literacy to benefit from universal, affordable, open and safe access.

Uptake of the Internet is deeply dependent on what it enables, socially, educationally and financially, for the people of the world. We must pay attention to how to provide dignified and respectful Internet access for the disabled, elderly, homeless, migrants, poor and non-English speakers. Investments in physical infrastructure and development of business models must be adapted to achieve inclusiveness and the development of applications serving the needs of a diverse population of users. The Internet we need has a set of properties we set out below:

Desirable properties of the People-centered Internet:

  1. Complete universal Internet coverage that enables functionality that is otherwise unreachable or ineffective
  2. The Internet is affordable, open, available and accessible to all
  3. Fosters digital literacy, local content in local language to achieve widespread usage and increased value to people, families, communities and countries
  4. The system achieves a level of trust that meets the users’ expectations of affordability, privacy, safety
  5. The quantity and quality of educational and information services is increasingly available to families and communities
  6. Anyone can contribute to improvement of the utility of the global Internet.
  7. Personal information in the digital environment is protected by law and controlled by the individual

In a one and a half day meeting, an initial complement of interested parties developed a list of elements that could drive the agenda for a People-Centered Internet (PCI) program, as set forth below:

  1. Align PCI program goals to support the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, approved September 2015 by the UN General Assembly, in education, health and other development objectives
  2. Build trust and inclusion to bridge generations, nations and cultures
  3. Empower women and youth with relevant Internet content to better equip future generations
  4. Support locally-led initiatives and grassroots innovations as well as top-down policies and reforms to support scaling up of promising innovations to improve human lives in diverse contexts.
  5. Develop narratives to influence decision makers to leverage ICT to transform their economies, institutions, and societies.
  6. Promote research, innovation, and knowledge sharing in best practices in national policies and strategies to advance digital transformation in government, economy, and society and maximize the digital dividends of the Internet.

If interested in further engagement, provide us with your contact information (and, if you wish, your endorsement of the statement above).