Who owns the Internet?

In recent decades, the Internet has expanded into something that is hardly recognizable if one looks at its humble beginnings. Understanding what the Internet is and how it works is not so easy.

Who really owns the internet? For many reasons, this question is quite difficult to answer. Below we will see possible answers about who owns the Internet.


What is the Internet?

The Internet is a vast network of computers. Any computer connected to the Internet can send information to other computers on the network. The Internet operates through a massive cabling and wireless technology (such as telecommunication towers and satellites) that connects all of these computers.

Small computer networks have existed since the late 50s and 60s. Later with the invention of packet switching, much larger computer networks were developed in universities, government agencies and various companies. Since the early 90's, a global, privately accessible Internet has become available.

This soon led to the internet as we know it today.

No one is the sole owner of the Internet.

The Internet is, in a way, more of a concept than a physical entity. No one has a patent or copyright that the Internet "gives" them. Instead, parts of the internet (data centers, cabling, satellites, routers, etc.) belong to countless companies and government agencies. The founder of the World Wide Web, the Sir Tim Berners-Lee, refused to patent the internet to keep it free and accessible to all.

To answer the question "Who owns the Internet?", We must also answer the question: "Who owns the Internet infrastructure?"

Who owns the Internet infrastructure?

The largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) own and provide the largest portions of Internet infrastructure.

This includes network access points, extended cabling, and routers. Today there are more than 700.000 miles of submarine cables - about 28 times the equator!

Because there is so much overlap in telephone networks, many telecommunications companies (such as AT&T, Spring, and CenturyLink for the United States) hold vast chunks of the Internet.

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Tier 1 ISPs (Level 1 ISPs)

Tier 1 ISPs are the backbone of the Internet, hosting most of the IPv4 addresses worldwide. These Tier 1 providers typically rent their infrastructure to smaller ISPs, who then sell the Internet to end users.

There are many ISP level 1, including Level 3, Cogent, Telia Carrier, NTT, GTT, Tata Communications and of course our OTE.

Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon have also started buying and developing intercontinental fiber optic cables and now own almost a tenth of all submarine cables. Some critics consider this move to be very dangerous, as it allows already incredibly powerful companies to have too much control over the internet.

Who controls and regulates the Internet?

The internet is largely out of control and self-regulating. There is no single, centralized body to control the Internet. The design of the Internet infrastructure makes it incredibly difficult to set up.

The information is sent in "packages" through many possible routes. The Internet Protocol (or Internet Protocol) provides connection devices with the ability to receive and understand data. Because packets can be sent over so many different routes, it is easy for the Internet Protocol (IP) to find a new route for this data to reach its destination.

Various governments have tried to regulate the internet for various reasons, usually presenting any attempt to regulate it as something necessary to control illegal content. These regulations usually reach the content level (ie shutdown of a website) or user level (ie criminal prosecution).

In this way, governments regulate the internet through laws. For example, laws against hacking or illegal content. Some countries use censorship to exclude certain parts of the Internet from their constituents. This of course raises concerns about freedom of speech and freedom of information and how an authoritarian regime could remove information and communication skills from its citizens.

Internet Standards Organizations

There are also some important groups of individuals and organizations that aim to set and promote internet standards. One of them is the WC3 or the World Wide Web Consortium. The WC3 publishes web development templates that aim to ensure that web accessibility, Internet infrastructure, and data management are standardized everywhere.

Another organization in this field is ICANN (The Internat Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which coordinates and maintains multiple databases, ensuring that the Internet can remain stable, secure and functional.

There is also the Internet Assigned Numbers Association (IANA), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) and the IEEE Standards Association. Each of these organizations has an important role to play in regulating the Internet in the form of developing standards, directly overseeing some critical roles, or maintaining databases that are central to the ongoing operation of the Internet.

ISP and network neutrality

The meaning of internet neutrality concerns us often. The idea is that ISPs should treat all data in the same way. They should not prioritize certain data over others in order to try to favor certain content providers, for example.

Network neutrality has supporters and critics, and various legal disputes are still ongoing worldwide. Proponents argue that smaller content providers could be completely eliminated without internet neutrality, which would lead to huge monopolies on internet content. Many countries have antitrust authorities set up to ensure that no ISP can monopolize the market.

However, many experts claim that the big technology companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) already have enormous power and influence on the Internet. For example, Google and Facebook now account for more than 70% of all Internet traffic. Amazon Web Services (AWS) runs about one-third of the Internet.

Who owns the data?

Data ownership or intellectual property has been the subject of much debate in recent years. The controversy surrounding the habit of large technology companies to collect information packages for individuals has raised the question of who really owns this data.

For example, information about your internet habits is collected from sites like Facebook. This data can then be sold to third parties which allows them to advertise more effectively.

When asking who owns the Internet, it is important to ask who owns the data generated on the Internet. This data is an important source of revenue generation, information and possibly Internet control.

Data ownership is complex and there is no set rule for who actually owns the data. But the person who owns the data generation platform (like Facebook) most likely owns the data, at least from a legal point of view.

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So who owns the Internet?

The short answer is that the internet is owned by many large companies. The vast majority of internet infrastructure is owned by a very small number of large communication companies.

If we want to answer who has power on the internet, again, the answer is a very small group of companies. Governments are trying to regulate certain aspects of the web, but the law does not seem to keep pace with the evolution of the Internet. This means that now only four or five companies control the majority of the Internet.

It is much more difficult to determine data ownership than by measuring wiring measures, because there are different laws around the world. But again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes.

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