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The Virtues of an Open and Interoperable Communications Architecture

Commission of the European Communities, Internet governance: the next steps. COM(2009) 277 final . June 18, 2009.

The early history of the Internet reflects its origins in research and academia. Decisions about what we now understand as ‘governance’ were made by engineers and scientists. To the benefit of millions of subsequent Internet users, this resulted in an open and interoperable architecture, where efficiencies and reliability were achieved by distributing intelligence to the edges of the network. As long as relatively simple protocols were respected, any network could connect with any other network.

This has allowed innovation to occur from anywhere, including from individual users and completely new actors uninhibited by significant entry barriers. Moreover, the distributed nature of the global Internet is also a key security strength since any localised failure is less likely to interfere with traffic elsewhere.

The success of this open and neutral architecture led to many other actors exploiting the inherent flexibility and efficiency of the Internet to deliver services and use it as a platform for their own innovations.

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The experience of the last 10 years demonstrates the viability of the policy approach advocated by the EU for Internet governance so far. The Commission believes in maintaining the EU’s strong emphasis on the need for security and stability of the global Internet, the respect for human rights, freedom of expression, privacy, protection of personal data and the promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity.
[One of] the key principles enabling the success of the Internet promoted by the EU remain the open, interoperable and ‘end-to-end’ nature of the Internet’s core architecture must be respected. This was stressed by the Council in 2005 and reiterated in 2008.