2019 Impact Report

Our work to grow and strengthen the Internet is more important now than ever.

The Internet Society worked around the world in 2019 to ensure the Internet can enrich people’s lives, and that it is a force for good in society. This Impact Report shows how we did that.

In 2019, we worked with our global community of partners, members, and Chapters to connect some of the most challenging places on Earth and to enhance trust in the transactions we carry out online every day. From supporting the creation of community networks in Argentina and Hawaiʻi to advocating for strong end-to-end encryption and securing the Internet’s routing system, I am proud of the work the Internet Society team accomplished in the past year.

As you will read on these pages, however, we have much work left to do. As powerful a connector as the Internet is, divisions are forming. No longer do people think of it only as a force for positive change. Certain governments portray the Internet as something to be feared, not embraced.

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan

President and Chief Executive Officer

There are those who use the Internet only in support of their evil intent. And meanwhile, nearly half of the world’s population lacks access to the Internet of opportunity.

Reports like this one give us the opportunity to take stock of where we’ve been, not so that we can rest on our laurels, but so that we can challenge ourselves to do more. The challenges we face are daunting, but the strength of our team, Board of Trustees, and our community of members and Chapters shows me that we can overcome them. Only together can the whole Internet Society achieve our mission of ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to the open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet.

I encourage you to read this report, and to visit our website to learn more about our activities.

Please join us today in our work to ensure the Internet is for everyone.

In this first-ever Internet Society Impact Report, we present some of our important work in 2019, highlighting four projects that had a significant effect on the development of the Internet: community networks, Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), routing security, and encryption. While the projects we highlight in this report touch on particular successes, they represent only a fraction of the full scope of the Internet Society’s activities.

For the past 28 years, the Internet Society has been home to a global community driven by a common idea: when people get access to the Internet, amazing things happen. They can share ideas, build communities, connect to education opportunities, improve health outcomes, and more. The Internet has become a force for positive social and economic change.

Over our nearly three-decade-long history, there has been significant progress toward reaching our goal of an open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet available to everyone. In 1992, the year the Internet Society was founded, there were fewer than 14 million Internet users. By the end of 2019, more than half of the world’s population – 4.1 billion people – were online. Governments around the world have embraced the Internet, realizing the opportunities it provides for education, entrepreneurship, employment, and access to healthcare, as well as language and culture preservation and promotion.

The Internet Society has a long history with some of the projects we discuss in this report. We’ve been involved with community networks and IXPs for many years. Others, like routing security and encryption, are more recent areas of activity for us. That said, all of these projects have something in common: a sense of urgency to act.

Our work to grow and strengthen the Internet is more important now than ever. Nearly 3.5 billion people remain offline. The Internet is under threat by governments around the world, who increasingly do not view it as a force for good. And online misinformation, election interference, and use of the Internet for criminal activity are contributing to declining trust in the Internet.

As we bring more people and communities online, we not only help improve their lives, we contribute to improving the Internet for all users around the world. As we secure the Internet’s global routing system, we advance our collective Internet experience. And as we work toward ensuring strong encryption is protected, we enhance trust in the Internet.

In 2019, the Internet Society expanded access to the Internet to some of the world’s hardest-to-reach places, made progress toward securing the Internet’s routing system, influenced governments around the world to protect end-to-end encryption, and grew local Internet infrastructure through IXPs, improving the Internet experience for many people and enhancing baseline connectivity.

We also laid the foundation to have an even greater impact in the future through capacity building, policy advocacy, nurturing our global community, working with new partners, and supporting the open, globally connected, secure, and trustworthy Internet. 

We don’t do this alone. The Internet Society’s network of members, chapters, and partners play a crucial role.

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Image copyrights:
Leading image: © Chris Gregory, Andrew Sullivan: © Fábio Erdos/Internet Society, Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter Launch Event: © Internet Society, Community Networks: © 2019 Elyse Butler