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The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected
computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by Node (networking), network nodes. The computers use common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections to communicate with each ot ...
s that uses the
Internet protocol suite The Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, is a framework for organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks according to functional criteria. The foundational protocols in the suit ...
(TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a '' network of networks'' that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and
optical networking Optical networking is a means of communication that uses signals encoded in light to transmit information in various types of telecommunications network A telecommunications network is a group of nodes interconnected by telecommunications links ...
technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked
hypertext Hypertext is text displayed on a computer display or other electronic devices with references ( hyperlinks) to other text that the reader can immediately access. Hypertext documents are interconnected by hyperlinks, which are typicall ...
documents and
applications Application may refer to: Mathematics and computing * Application software, computer software designed to help the user to perform specific tasks ** Application layer, an abstraction layer that specifies protocols and interface methods used in a c ...
of the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system enabling documents and other web resources to be accessed over the Internet. Documents and downloadable media are made available to the network through web se ...
(WWW),
electronic mail Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronics, electronic (digital media, digital) version of, or counterpart to, mail, ...
,
telephony Telephony ( ) is the field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunication services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice, fax, or data, between distant parties. The history of telephony is i ...
, and
file sharing File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents or E-book, electronic books. Common methods of Computer data storage, storage, Data tran ...
. The origins of the Internet date back to the development of
packet switching In telecommunications, packet switching is a method of grouping Data (computing), data into ''network packet, packets'' that are transmitted over a digital Telecommunications network, network. Packets are made of a header (computing), header and ...
and research commissioned by the
United States Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an United States federal executive departments, executive branch department of the Federal government of the United States, federal government charged with coordinating and superv ...
in the 1960s to enable
time-sharing In computing, time-sharing is the sharing of a computing resource among many users at the same time by means of multiprogramming and computer multitasking, multi-tasking.DEC Timesharing (1965), by Peter Clark, The DEC Professional, Volume 1, Num ...
of computers. The primary precursor network, the
ARPANET The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the first wide-area packet-switched network with distributed control and one of the first networks to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite. Both technologies became the technical fo ...
, initially served as a backbone for interconnection of regional academic and military networks in the 1970s to enable
resource sharing In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardware ...
. The funding of the
National Science Foundation Network The National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) was a program of coordinated, evolving projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1985 to 1995 to promote advanced research and education networking in the United States. The p ...
as a new backbone in the 1980s, as well as private funding for other commercial extensions, led to worldwide participation in the development of new networking technologies, and the merger of many networks. The linking of commercial networks and enterprises by the early 1990s marked the beginning of the transition to the modern Internet, and generated a sustained exponential growth as generations of institutional, personal, and mobile
computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern digital electronic computers can perform generic sets of operations known as Computer program, pr ...
s were connected to the network. Although the Internet was widely used by
academia An academy (Attic Greek Attic Greek is the Greek language, Greek dialect of the regions of ancient Greece, ancient region of Attica, including the ''polis'' of classical Athens, Athens. Often called classical Greek, it was the prestige (socio ...
in the 1980s,
commercialization Commercialization or commercialisation is the process of introducing a new product or production method into commerce Commerce is the large-scale organized system of activities, functions, procedures and institutions directly and indirectly r ...
incorporated its services and technologies into virtually every aspect of modern life. Most traditional communication media, including telephone, radio, television, paper mail and newspapers are reshaped, redefined, or even bypassed by the Internet, giving birth to new services such as email, Internet telephone,
Internet television Streaming television is the digital distribution of television content, such as TV shows, as streaming media delivered over the Internet. Streaming television stands in contrast to dedicated terrestrial television delivered by Broadcast televis ...
,
online music A digital music store is a business that sells Audio file format, digital audio files of Sound recording and reproduction, music recordings over the Internet. Customers gain ownership of a license to use the files, in contrast to a music streami ...
, digital newspapers, and
video streaming Video on demand (VOD) is a media distribution system that allows users to access videos without a traditional video playback device and the constraints of a typical static broadcasting schedule. In the 20th century, broadcasting in the form of o ...
websites. Newspaper, book, and other print publishing are adapting to
website A website (also written as a web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common domain name and published on at least one web server. Examples of notable websites are Google Search, Google, Facebook, Amaz ...
technology, or are reshaped into
blogging A blog (a Clipping (morphology), truncation of "weblog") is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). Posts are typically displayed in Reverse ...
,
web feed On the World Wide Web, a web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Content distributors ''Web syndication, syndicate'' a web feed, thereby allowing users to ''subscribe'' a channel to it b ...
s and online
news aggregator In computing, a news aggregator, also termed a feed aggregator, feed reader, news reader, RSS reader or simply an aggregator, is client software or a web application that aggregates web syndication, syndicated web content such as online newspap ...
s. The Internet has enabled and accelerated new forms of personal interactions through
instant messaging Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat allowing real-time text transmission over the Internet or another computer network. Messages are typically transmitted between two or more parties, when each user inputs text and trigge ...
,
Internet forum An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are often longer than one line of text, and are at least tempor ...
s, and
social networking service A social networking service or SNS (sometimes called a social networking site) is an online platform which people use to build social networks or social relationships with other people who share similar personal or career content, interests, act ...
s.
Online shopping Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy good (economics), goods or Service (economics), services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser or a mobile app. Consumers find a product of in ...
has grown exponentially for major retailers,
small business Small businesses are types of corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships which have fewer employees and/or less annual revenue than a regular-sized business or corporation. Businesses are defined as "small" in terms of being able to ap ...
es, and
entrepreneur Entrepreneurship is the creation or extraction of economic value. With this definition, entrepreneurship is viewed as change, generally entailing risk beyond what is normally encountered in starting a business, which may include other values t ...
s, as it enables firms to extend their "
brick and mortar Brick and mortar (also bricks and mortar or B&M) refers to a physical presence of an organization or business in a building or other structure. The term ''brick-and-mortar business'' is often used to refer to a company that possesses or leases ...
" presence to serve a larger market or even sell goods and services entirely online.
Business-to-business Business-to-business (B2B or, in some countries, BtoB) is a situation where one business makes a commercial transaction with another. This typically occurs when: * A business is sourcing materials for their production process for output (e.g., a ...
and
financial services Financial services are the Service (economics), economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of businesses that manage money, including credit unions, banks, credit-card companies, insurance companies, acco ...
on the Internet affect
supply chain In commerce, a supply chain is a network of facilities that procure raw materials, transform them into intermediate goods and then final products to customers through a distribution system. It refers to the network of organizations, people, activ ...
s across entire industries. The Internet has no single centralized governance in either technological implementation or policies for access and usage; each constituent network sets its own policies. The overreaching definitions of the two principal
name space In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardw ...
s in the Internet, the
Internet Protocol address An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as that is connected to a computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by Node (networking), network nodes. The ...
(IP address) space and the
Domain Name System The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical and distributed naming system for computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern d ...
(DNS), are directed by a maintainer organization, the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN ) is an American multistakeholder group and nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-profit organisation, also known as a non-business entity, not ...
(ICANN). The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols is an activity of the
Internet Engineering Task Force The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a standards organization for the Internet standard, Internet and is responsible for the technical standards that make up the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP). It has no formal membership roster or ...
(IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise. In November 2006, the Internet was included on ''
USA Today ''USA Today'' (stylized in all uppercase) is an American daily middle-market newspaper and news broadcasting company. Founded by Al Neuharth on September 15, 1982, the newspaper operates from Gannett's corporate headquarters in Tysons, Virgini ...
''s list of New Seven Wonders.


Terminology

The word ''internetted'' was used as early as 1849, meaning ''interconnected'' or ''interwoven''. The word ''Internet'' was used in 1974 as the shorthand form of Internetwork. Today, the term ''Internet'' most commonly refers to the global system of interconnected
computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by Node (networking), network nodes. The computers use common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections to communicate with each ot ...
s, though it may also refer to any group of smaller networks. When it came into common use, most publications treated the word ''Internet'' as a capitalized
proper noun A proper noun is a noun that identifies a single entity and is used to refer to that entity ('' Africa'', '' Jupiter'', '' Sarah'', '' Microsoft)'' as distinguished from a common noun, which is a noun that refers to a class of entities (''conti ...
; this has become less common. This reflects the tendency in English to capitalize new terms and move to lowercase as they become familiar. The word is sometimes still capitalized to distinguish the global internet from smaller networks, though many publications, including the ''
AP Stylebook The ''AP Stylebook'', also known by its full name ''The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law'', is an American English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for or connected with the Associated Pr ...
'' since 2016, recommend the lowercase form in every case. In 2016, the ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the first and foundational historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a com ...
'' found that, based on a study of around 2.5 billion printed and online sources, "Internet" was capitalized in 54% of cases. The terms ''Internet'' and ''World Wide Web'' are often used interchangeably; it is common to speak of "going on the Internet" when using a
web browser A web browser is application software for accessing websites. When a User (computing), user requests a web page from a particular website, the browser retrieves its Computer file, files from a web server and then displays the page on the user' ...
to view web pages. However, the
World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system enabling documents and other web resources to be accessed over the Internet. Documents and downloadable media are made available to the network through web se ...
or ''the Web'' is only one of a large number of Internet services, a collection of documents (web pages) and other
web resource A web resource is any identifiable resource (digital, physical, or abstract) present on or connected to the World Wide Web The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information system enabling documents and other web r ...
s, linked by
hyperlink In computing, a hyperlink, or simply a link, is a digital reference to Data (computing), data that the user (computing), user can follow or be guided by point and click, clicking or touchscreen, tapping. A hyperlink points to a whole document ...
s and URLs.


History

In the 1960s, the
Advanced Research Projects Agency The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development Research and development (R&D or R+D), known in Europe as research and technological development (RTD), is the set of innovative activities undertaken by ...
(ARPA) of the United States
Department of Defense Department of Defence or Department of Defense may refer to: Current departments of defence * Department of Defence (Australia) * Department of National Defence (Canada) * Department of Defence (Ireland) * Department of National Defense (Philippin ...
(DoD) funded research into
time-sharing In computing, time-sharing is the sharing of a computing resource among many users at the same time by means of multiprogramming and computer multitasking, multi-tasking.DEC Timesharing (1965), by Peter Clark, The DEC Professional, Volume 1, Num ...
of computers. J. C. R. Licklider proposed the idea of a universal network while leading the
Information Processing Techniques Office The Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO), originally "Command and Control Research",Lyon, Matthew; Hafner, Katie (1999-08-19). ''Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet'' (p. 39). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition. was par ...
(IPTO) at ARPA. Research into
packet switching In telecommunications, packet switching is a method of grouping Data (computing), data into ''network packet, packets'' that are transmitted over a digital Telecommunications network, network. Packets are made of a header (computing), header and ...
, one of the fundamental Internet technologies, started in the work of
Paul Baran Paul Baran (born Pesach Baran ; April 29, 1926 – March 26, 2011) was a Polish-American engineer who was a pioneer in the development of computer networks. He was one of the two independent inventors of packet switching, which is today the d ...
in the early 1960s and, independently,
Donald Davies Donald Watts Davies, (7 June 1924 – 28 May 2000) was a Welsh computer scientist who was employed at the UK National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom), National Physical Laboratory (NPL). In 1965 he conceived of packet switching, which ...
in 1965.; After the
Symposium on Operating Systems Principles In ancient Greece, the symposium ( grc-gre, συμπόσιον ''symposion'' or ''symposio'', from συμπίνειν ''sympinein'', "to drink together") was a part of a banquet that took place after the meal, when drinking for pleasure was acc ...
in 1967, packet switching from the proposed
NPL network The NPL network, or NPL Data Communications Network, was a local area computer network operated by a team from the National Physical Laboratory (United Kingdom), National Physical Laboratory in London that pioneered the concept of packet switchi ...
was incorporated into the design for the
ARPANET The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the first wide-area packet-switched network with distributed control and one of the first networks to implement the TCP/IP protocol suite. Both technologies became the technical fo ...
and other
resource sharing In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardware ...
networks such as the
Merit Network Merit Network, Inc., is a nonprofit member-governed organization providing high-performance computer networking and related services to educational, government, health care, and Non-profit organization, nonprofit organizations, primarily in Michi ...
and
CYCLADES The Cyclades (; el, Κυκλάδες, ) are an island group in the Aegean Sea, southeast of mainland Greece and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago ...
, which were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. ARPANET development began with two network nodes which were interconnected between the
University of California, Los Angeles The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in Los Angeles, California. UCLA's academic roots were established in 1881 as a Normal school, teachers colle ...
(UCLA) and
SRI International SRI International (SRI) is an American nonprofit organization, nonprofit scientific research, scientific research institute and organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California. The trustees of Stanford University established SRI in 1946 as ...
(SRI) on 29 October 1969. The third site was at the
University of California, Santa Barbara The University of California, Santa Barbara (UC Santa Barbara or UCSB) is a Public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in Santa Barbara County, California, Santa Barbara, California with 23,196 undergraduate ...
, followed by the
University of Utah The University of Utah (U of U, UofU, or simply The U) is a public research university in Salt Lake City, Utah Utah ( , ) is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. Utah is a landlocked U.S. state bor ...
. In a sign of future growth, 15 sites were connected to the young ARPANET by the end of 1971. These early years were documented in the 1972 film '' Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing''. Thereafter, the ARPANET gradually developed into a decentralized communications network, connecting remote centers and military bases in the United States. Early international collaborations for the ARPANET were rare. Connections were made in 1973 to the Norwegian Seismic Array (
NORSAR NORSAR or Norwegian Seismic Array was established in 1968 as part of the Norway, Norwegian-United States, US agreement for the detection of earthquakes and nuclear explosions. Description Located at Kjeller, north of Oslo, NORSAR runs and maint ...
), and to
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a Public university, public research university in London, United Kingdom. It is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federal university, fe ...
which provided a gateway to British academic networks forming the first international
resource sharing In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardware ...
network. ARPA projects, international working groups and commercial initiatives led to the development of various protocols and standards by which multiple separate networks could become a single network or "a network of networks". In 1974,
Bob Kahn Robert Elliot Kahn (born December 23, 1938) is an American electrical engineer who, along with Vint Cerf, first proposed the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), the fundamental communication protocols at the hear ...
at DARPA and
Vint Cerf Vinton Gray Cerf (; born June 23, 1943) is an American Internet pioneer and is recognized as one of "List of Internet pioneers, the fathers of the Internet", sharing this title with TCP/IP co-developer Bob Kahn. He has received honorary degrees ...
at
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. S ...
published their ideas for "A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication". They used the term ''internet'' as a shorthand for ''
internetwork Internetworking is the practice of interconnecting multiple computer networks, such that any pair of Host (network), hosts in the connected networks can exchange messages irrespective of their hardware-level networking technology. The resulting s ...
'' in ', and later RFCs repeated this use. Kahn and Cerf credit
Louis Pouzin Louis Pouzin (April 20, 1931 in Chantenay-Saint-Imbert, Nièvre Nièvre () is a Departments of France, department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Regions of France, region, central-east France. Named after the river Nièvre (Loire), Nièvre, ...
with important influences on the resulting
TCP/IP The Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, is a framework for organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks according to functional criteria. The foundational protocols in the suit ...
design. National PTTs and commercial providers developed the X.25 standard and deployed it on
public data network A public data network (PDN) is a telecommunications network, network established and operated by a telecommunications administration, or a recognized private operating agency, for the specific purpose of providing data transmission services for the ...
s. Access to the ARPANET was expanded in 1981 when the
National Science Foundation The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency of the United States government that supports fundamental research and education Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitti ...
(NSF) funded the Computer Science Network (CSNET). In 1982, the
Internet Protocol Suite The Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, is a framework for organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks according to functional criteria. The foundational protocols in the suit ...
(TCP/IP) was standardized, which permitted worldwide proliferation of interconnected networks. TCP/IP network access expanded again in 1986 when the
National Science Foundation Network The National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) was a program of coordinated, evolving projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1985 to 1995 to promote advanced research and education networking in the United States. The p ...
(NSFNet) provided access to
supercomputer A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer. The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions p ...
sites in the United States for researchers, first at speeds of 56 kbit/s and later at 1.5 Mbit/s and 45 Mbit/s. The NSFNet expanded into academic and research organizations in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan in 1988–89. Although other network protocols such as
UUCP UUCP is an acronym of Unix-to-Unix Copy. The term generally refers to a suite of computer programs and communications protocol, protocols allowing remote execution of commands and transfer of Computer file, files, email and netnews between compute ...
and PTT public data networks had global reach well before this time, this marked the beginning of the Internet as an intercontinental network. Commercial
Internet service providers An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. ISPs can be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privatel ...
(ISPs) emerged in 1989 in the United States and Australia. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990. Steady advances in
semiconductor A semiconductor is a material which has an electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between that of a electrical conductor, conductor, such as copper, and an insulator (electricity), insulator, such as glas ...
technology and
optical networking Optical networking is a means of communication that uses signals encoded in light to transmit information in various types of telecommunications network A telecommunications network is a group of nodes interconnected by telecommunications links ...
created new economic opportunities for commercial involvement in the expansion of the network in its core and for delivering services to the public. In mid-1989,
MCI Mail MCI Mail was one of the first ever commercial email Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronics, electronic (digital m ...
and
Compuserve CompuServe (CompuServe Information Service, also known by its initialism CIS) was an American online service provider, the first major commercial one in the world – described in 1994 as "the oldest of the Big Three information services (the ot ...
established connections to the Internet, delivering email and public access products to the half million users of the Internet. Just months later, on 1 January 1990, PSInet launched an alternate Internet backbone for commercial use; one of the networks that added to the core of the commercial Internet of later years. In March 1990, the first high-speed T1 (1.5 Mbit/s) link between the NSFNET and Europe was installed between
Cornell University Cornell University is a private statutory land-grant research university based in Ithaca, New York. It is a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, Cornell was founded with the intention to ...
and
CERN The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN (; ; ), is an intergovernmental organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Established in 1954, it is based in a northwestern suburb of Gene ...
, allowing much more robust communications than were capable with satellites. Six months later
Tim Berners-Lee Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee (born 8 June 1955), also known as TimBL, is an English computer scientist best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He is a Research fellow, Professorial Fellow of Computer Science at the University of Oxf ...
would begin writing
WorldWideWeb WorldWideWeb (later renamed Nexus to avoid confusion between the software Software is a set of computer programs and associated software documentation, documentation and data (computing), data. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, ha ...
, the first
web browser A web browser is application software for accessing websites. When a User (computing), user requests a web page from a particular website, the browser retrieves its Computer file, files from a web server and then displays the page on the user' ...
, after two years of lobbying CERN management. By Christmas 1990, Berners-Lee had built all the tools necessary for a working Web: the
HyperText Transfer Protocol The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application layer protocol in the Internet protocol suite model for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, w ...
(HTTP) 0.9, the
HyperText Markup Language The HyperText Markup Language or HTML is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be assisted by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript ...
(HTML), the first Web browser (which was also an
HTML editor An HTML editor is a Computer program, program for editing HTML, the Markup language, markup of a web page. Although the HTML markup in a web page can be controlled with any text editor, specialized HTML editors can offer convenience and added fu ...
and could access
Usenet Usenet () is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose UUCP, Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up network architecture. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis (computing), Jim Ellis conceived th ...
newsgroups and
FTP The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard communication protocol A communication protocol is a system of rules that allows two or more entities of a communications system to transmit information via any kind of variation of a physical ...
files), the first HTTP server software (later known as CERN httpd), the first
web server A web server is computer software and underlying Computer hardware, hardware that accepts requests via Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP (the network protocol created to distribute web content) or its secure variant HTTPS. A user agent, c ...
, and the first Web pages that described the project itself. In 1991 the
Commercial Internet eXchange The Commercial Internet eXchange (CIX) was an early interexchange point that allowed the free exchange of TCP/IP traffic, including commercial traffic, between ISPs. It was an important initial effort toward creating the commercial Internet that w ...
was founded, allowing PSInet to communicate with the other commercial networks CERFnet and Alternet. Stanford Federal Credit Union was the first
financial institution Financial institutions, sometimes called banking institutions, are business entities that provide services as intermediaries for different types of financial monetary transactions. Broadly speaking, there are three major types of financial insti ...
to offer online Internet banking services to all of its members in October 1994. In 1996,
OP Financial Group OP Financial Group is one of the largest financial companies in Finland. It consists of 180 Cooperative banking, cooperative banks and their central organization. “OP” stands for “osuuspankki” in Finnish, literally meaning “cooperative ...
, also a
cooperative bank Cooperative banking is retail and commercial banking organized on a cooperative basis. Cooperative banking institutions take deposits and lend money in most parts of the world. Cooperative banking, as discussed here, includes retail banking carr ...
, became the second online bank in the world and the first in Europe. By 1995, the Internet was fully commercialized in the U.S. when the NSFNet was decommissioned, removing the last restrictions on use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic. As technology advanced and commercial opportunities fueled reciprocal growth, the volume of
Internet traffic Internet traffic is the flow of data within the entire Internet, or in certain network links of its constituent networks. Common traffic measurements are total volume, in units of multiples of the byte, or as transmission rates in bytes per cert ...
started experiencing similar characteristics as that of the scaling of
MOS transistor The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET, MOS-FET, or MOS FET) is a type of field-effect transistor The field-effect transistor (FET) is a type of transistor that uses an electric field to control the flow of Electric ...
s, exemplified by
Moore's law Moore's law is the observation that the Transistor count, number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit (IC) doubles about every two years. Moore's law is an observation and Forecasting, projection of a historical trend. Rather than a la ...
, doubling every 18 months. This growth, formalized as
Edholm's law Edholm's law, proposed by and named after Phil Edholm, refers to the observation that the three categories of telecommunication, namely wireless (mobile), nomadic (wireless without mobility) and wired Telecommunications network, networks (fixed), a ...
, was catalyzed by advances in
MOS technology MOS Technology, Inc. ("MOS" being short for Metal Oxide Semiconductor), later known as CSG (Commodore Semiconductor Group) and GMT Microelectronics, was a integrated circuit, semiconductor design and Semiconductor device fabrication, fabrica ...
,
laser A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The word "laser" is an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". The fi ...
light wave systems, and
noise Noise is unwanted sound considered unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. From a physics standpoint, there is no distinction between noise and desired sound, as both are vibrations through a medium, such as air or water. The difference arise ...
performance. Since 1995, the Internet has tremendously impacted culture and commerce, including the rise of near instant communication by email,
instant messaging Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat allowing real-time text transmission over the Internet or another computer network. Messages are typically transmitted between two or more parties, when each user inputs text and trigge ...
, telephony (
Voice over Internet Protocol Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also called IP telephony, is a method and group of technologies for the delivery of speech, voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The terms In ...
or VoIP), two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its
discussion forums An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are often longer than one line of text, and are at least temporar ...
, blogs,
social networking service A social networking service or SNS (sometimes called a social networking site) is an online platform which people use to build social networks or social relationships with other people who share similar personal or career content, interests, act ...
s, and
online shopping Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy good (economics), goods or Service (economics), services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser or a mobile app. Consumers find a product of in ...
sites. Increasing amounts of data are transmitted at higher and higher speeds over fiber optic networks operating at 1 Gbit/s, 10 Gbit/s, or more. The Internet continues to grow, driven by ever greater amounts of online information and knowledge, commerce, entertainment and social networking services. During the late 1990s, it was estimated that traffic on the public Internet grew by 100 percent per year, while the mean annual growth in the number of Internet users was thought to be between 20% and 50%. This growth is often attributed to the lack of central administration, which allows organic growth of the network, as well as the non-proprietary nature of the Internet protocols, which encourages vendor interoperability and prevents any one company from exerting too much control over the network. , the estimated total number of Internet users was 2.095 billion (30.2% of
world population In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living. It was estimated by the United Nations to have exceeded 8 billion in November 2022. It took over 200,000 years of human prehistory and human history, ...
). It is estimated that in 1993 the Internet carried only 1% of the information flowing through two-way
telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information by various types of technologies over wire, radio, Optical system, optical, or other Electromagnetism, electromagnetic systems. It has its origin in the desire of humans for communication ov ...
. By 2000 this figure had grown to 51%, and by 2007 more than 97% of all telecommunicated information was carried over the Internet.


Governance

The Internet is a global network that comprises many voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks. It operates without a central governing body. The technical underpinning and standardization of the core protocols (
IPv4 Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its ro ...
and
IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communication protocol, communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic ...
) is an activity of the
Internet Engineering Task Force The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a standards organization for the Internet standard, Internet and is responsible for the technical standards that make up the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP). It has no formal membership roster or ...
(IETF), a non-profit organization of loosely affiliated international participants that anyone may associate with by contributing technical expertise. To maintain interoperability, the principal
name space In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , hardw ...
s of the Internet are administered by the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN ) is an American multistakeholder group and nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-profit organisation, also known as a non-business entity, not ...
(ICANN). ICANN is governed by an international board of directors drawn from across the Internet technical, business, academic, and other non-commercial communities. ICANN coordinates the assignment of unique identifiers for use on the Internet, including
domain name A domain name is a String (computer science), string that identifies a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are often used to identify services provided through the Internet, such as websites, e ...
s, IP addresses, application port numbers in the transport protocols, and many other parameters. Globally unified name spaces are essential for maintaining the global reach of the Internet. This role of ICANN distinguishes it as perhaps the only central coordinating body for the global Internet.
Regional Internet registries A regional Internet registry (RIR) is an organization that manages the allocation and registration of Internet number resources within a region of the world. Internet number resources include IP addresses and autonomous system (Internet), autonom ...
(RIRs) were established for five regions of the world. The African Network Information Center (AfriNIC) for
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
, the
American Registry for Internet Numbers The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) is the regional Internet registry A regional Internet registry (RIR) is an organization that manages the allocation and registration of Internet number resources within a region of the world. ...
(ARIN) for
North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Car ...
, the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) for
Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with Africa Africa is ...
and the
Pacific region The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south, and is bounded by the continen ...
, the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) for
Latin America Latin America or * french: Amérique Latine, link=no * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no, name=a, sometimes referred to as LatAm is a large cultural region in the Americas where Romance languages — languages derived f ...
and the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
region, and the Réseaux IP Européens – Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) for
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
, the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabian Peninsula, Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Anatolia, Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Pro ...
, and
Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the c ...
were delegated to assign IP address blocks and other Internet parameters to local registries, such as
Internet service provider An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. ISPs can be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privatel ...
s, from a designated pool of addresses set aside for each region. The
National Telecommunications and Information Administration The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce that serves as the President of the United States, President's principal adviser on telecommunications Telecommunica ...
, an agency of the
United States Department of Commerce The United States Department of Commerce is an United States federal executive departments, executive department of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government concerned with creating the conditions for economic growth ...
, had final approval over changes to the
DNS root zone The DNS root zone is the top-level DNS zone in the hierarchical namespace of the Domain Name System (DNS) of the Internet. Before October 1, 2016, the root zone had been overseen by the ICANN, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ...
until the IANA stewardship transition on 1 October 2016. The
Internet Society The Internet Society (ISOC) is an American nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1992 with local chapters around the world. Its mission is "to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people ...
(ISOC) was founded in 1992 with a mission to ''"assure the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world"''. Its members include individuals (anyone may join) as well as corporations,
organizations An organization or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and British English spelling differences#-ise, -ize (-isation, -ization), see spelling differences), is an legal entity, entity—such as ...
, governments, and universities. Among other activities ISOC provides an administrative home for a number of less formally organized groups that are involved in developing and managing the Internet, including: the IETF,
Internet Architecture Board The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is "a committee of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and an advisory body of the Internet Society (ISOC). Its responsibilities include architectural oversight of IETF activities, Internet Standards ...
(IAB),
Internet Engineering Steering Group The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a standards organization for the Internet standard, Internet and is responsible for the technical standards that make up the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP). It has no formal membership roster or ...
(IESG),
Internet Research Task Force The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) is an organization, overseen by the Internet Architecture Board The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is "a committee of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and an advisory body of the Internet ...
(IRTF), and Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG). On 16 November 2005, the United Nations-sponsored
World Summit on the Information Society The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was a two-phase United Nations-sponsored summit on information, communication and, in broad terms, the information society An information society is a society where the usage, Content creation, ...
in
Tunis Tunis ( ar, تونس ') is the capital city, capital and largest city of Tunisia. The greater metropolitan area of Tunis, often referred to as "Grand Tunis", has about 2,700,000 inhabitants. , it is the third-largest city in the Maghreb region (a ...
established the
Internet Governance Forum The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multistakeholder governance group for policy dialogue on issues of Internet governance. It brings together all stakeholders in the Internet governance debate, whether they represent governments, the priv ...
(IGF) to discuss Internet-related issues.


Infrastructure

The communications infrastructure of the Internet consists of its hardware components and a system of software layers that control various aspects of the architecture. As with any computer network, the Internet physically consists of routers, media (such as cabling and radio links), repeaters, modems etc. However, as an example of
internetworking Internetworking is the practice of interconnecting multiple computer networks, such that any pair of hosts in the connected networks can exchange messages irrespective of their hardware-level networking technology. The resulting system of inter ...
, many of the network nodes are not necessarily internet equipment per se, the internet packets are carried by other full-fledged networking protocols with the Internet acting as a homogeneous networking standard, running across
heterogeneous Homogeneity and heterogeneity are concepts often used in the sciences and statistics relating to the Uniformity (chemistry), uniformity of a Chemical substance, substance or organism. A material or image that is homogeneous is uniform in compos ...
hardware, with the packets guided to their destinations by IP routers.


Service tiers

Internet service provider An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for accessing, using, or participating in the Internet. ISPs can be organized in various forms, such as commercial, community-owned, non-profit, or otherwise privatel ...
s (ISPs) establish the worldwide connectivity between individual networks at various levels of scope. End-users who only access the Internet when needed to perform a function or obtain information, represent the bottom of the routing hierarchy. At the top of the routing hierarchy are the tier 1 networks, large telecommunication companies that exchange traffic directly with each other via very high speed fibre optic cables and governed by
peering In computer networking, peering is a voluntary interconnection of administratively separate Internet data network, networks for the purpose of exchanging traffic between the "down-stream" users of each network. Peering is settlement (finance), sett ...
agreements. Tier 2 and lower-level networks buy
Internet transit Internet transit is the service of allowing network traffic to cross or "transit" a computer network, usually used to connect a smaller Internet service provider An Internet service provider (ISP) is an organization that provides services for ...
from other providers to reach at least some parties on the global Internet, though they may also engage in peering. An ISP may use a single upstream provider for connectivity, or implement
multihoming Multihoming is the practice of connecting a host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places *Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks County People *Jim H ...
to achieve redundancy and load balancing.
Internet exchange point Internet exchange points (IXes or IXPs) are common grounds of Internet Protocol, IP networking, allowing participant Internet service provider, Internet service providers (ISPs) to exchange data destined for their respective networks. IXPs are ...
s are major traffic exchanges with physical connections to multiple ISPs. Large organizations, such as academic institutions, large enterprises, and governments, may perform the same function as ISPs, engaging in peering and purchasing transit on behalf of their internal networks. Research networks tend to interconnect with large subnetworks such as GEANT, GLORIAD,
Internet2 Internet2 is a not-for-profit United States computer networking consortium led by members from the research and education communities, industry, and government. The Internet2 consortium administrative headquarters are located in Ann Arbor, Mi ...
, and the UK's
national research and education network A national research and education network (NREN) is a specialised internet service provider dedicated to supporting the needs of the research and education communities within a country. It is usually distinguished by support for a high-speed backb ...
,
JANET Janet may refer to: Names * Janet (given name) * Janet (French singer) (1939–2011) Surname * Charles Janet (1849–1932), French engineer, inventor and biologist, known for the Left Step periodic table * Jules Janet (1861–1945), French psych ...
.


Access

Common methods of
Internet access Internet access is the ability of individuals and organizations to connect to the Internet using computer terminals, computers, and other devices; and to access services such as email and the World Wide Web. Internet access is sold by Internet ...
by users include dial-up with a computer
modem A modulator-demodulator or modem is a computer hardware device that converts data from a digital format into a format suitable for an analog transmission medium such as telephone or radio. A modem transmits data by Modulation#Digital modulati ...
via telephone circuits,
broadband In telecommunications, broadband is wide bandwidth data transmission which transports multiple signals at a wide range of frequencies and Internet traffic types, that enables messages to be sent simultaneously, used in fast internet connection ...
over
coaxial cable Coaxial cable, or coax (pronounced ) is a type of electrical cable consisting of an inner Electrical conductor, conductor surrounded by a concentric conducting Electromagnetic shielding, shield, with the two separated by a dielectric (Insulato ...
,
fiber optics An optical fiber, or optical fibre in Commonwealth English, is a flexible, transparency and translucency, transparent fiber made by Drawing (manufacturing), drawing glass (silica) or plastic to a diameter slightly thicker than that of a Hair ...
or copper wires,
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi () is a family of wireless network Communication protocol, protocols, based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for Wireless LAN, local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital d ...
,
satellite A satellite or artificial satellite is an object intentionally placed into orbit in outer space. Except for passive satellites, most satellites have an electricity generation system for equipment on board, such as solar panels or radiois ...
, and
cellular telephone A mobile phone, cellular phone, cell phone, cellphone, handphone, hand phone or pocket phone, sometimes shortened to simply mobile, cell, or just phone, is a portable telephone that can make and receive telephone call, calls over a radio freq ...
technology (e.g. 3G, 4G). The Internet may often be accessed from computers in libraries and
Internet cafe The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ''internetworking, network of networks'' that consists ...
s. Internet access points exist in many public places such as airport halls and coffee shops. Various terms are used, such as ''public Internet kiosk'', ''public access terminal'', and ''Web
payphone A payphone (alternative spelling: pay phone) is typically a coin-operated public telephone, often located in a telephone booth or in high-traffic outdoor areas, with prepayment by inserting money (usually coins) or by billing a credit card, cre ...
''. Many hotels also have public terminals that are usually fee-based. These terminals are widely accessed for various usages, such as ticket booking, bank deposit, or online payment. Wi-Fi provides wireless access to the Internet via local computer networks.
Hotspots Hotspot, Hot Spot or Hot spot may refer to: Places * Hot Spot, Kentucky, a community in the United States Arts, entertainment, and media Fictional entities * Hot Spot (comics), a name for the DC Comics character Isaiah Crockett * Hot Spot (Tran ...
providing such access include Wi-Fi cafes, where users need to bring their own wireless devices such as a laptop or PDA. These services may be free to all, free to customers only, or fee-based.
Grassroots A grassroots movement is one that uses the people in a given district, region or community as the basis for a political or economic movement. Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to effect change at t ...
efforts have led to
wireless community network Wireless community networks (WCNs) or wireless community projects or simply community networks, are non-centralized, self-managed and collaborative networks organized in a grassroots fashion by communities, NGO's and cooperatives in order to provi ...
s. Commercial Wi-Fi services that cover large areas are available in many cities, such as New York,
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...
,
Vienna Vienna ( ; german: Wien ; bar, Wean, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian ) is the Capital city, capital, largest city, and one of States of Austria, nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's List of cities and towns in Austria, most populou ...
,
Toronto Toronto ( ; or ) is the capital city of the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian province of Ontario. With a recorded population of 2,794,356 in 2021, it is the List of the largest municipalities in Canada by population, most pop ...
,
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the commercial, financial, and cultural center of Northern California. The city proper is the List of Ca ...
,
Philadelphia Philadelphia, often called Philly, is the List of municipalities in Pennsylvania#Municipalities, largest city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the List of United States cities by population, sixth-largest city i ...
,
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = List of sovereign states, Count ...
and
Pittsburgh Pittsburgh ( ) is a city in the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States, and the county seat of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County. It is the most populous city in both Allegheny County and Wester ...
, where the Internet can then be accessed from places such as a park bench. Experiments have also been conducted with proprietary mobile wireless networks like
Ricochet A ricochet ( ; ) is a rebound, bounce, or skip off a surface, particularly in the case of a projectile. Most ricochets are caused by accident and while the force of the deflection decelerates the projectile, it can still be energetic and almost ...
, various high-speed data services over cellular networks, and fixed wireless services. Modern
smartphone A smartphone is a Mobile device, portable computer device that combines Mobile phone, mobile telephone and Mobile computing, computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities ...
s can also access the Internet through the cellular carrier network. For Web browsing, these devices provide applications such as
Google Chrome Google Chrome is a cross-platform web browser developed by Google. It was first released in 2008 for Microsoft Windows, built with free software components from Apple WebKit and Mozilla Firefox. Versions were later released for Linux, macOS, ...
,
Safari A safari (; ) is an overland journey to observe wildlife, wild animals, especially in East Africa, eastern or southern Africa. The so-called big five game, "Big Five" game animals of Africa – lion, African leopard, leopard, rhinoceros, Africa ...
, and
Firefox Mozilla Firefox, or simply Firefox, is a free and open-source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is a term used to refer to groups of software consisting of both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software licen ...
and a wide variety of other Internet software may be installed from app-stores. Internet usage by mobile and tablet devices exceeded desktop worldwide for the first time in October 2016.


Mobile communication

''World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report 2017/2018''
The
International Telecommunication Union The International Telecommunication Union is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for many matters related to information and communication technologies. It was established on 17 May 1865 as the International Telegraph Unio ...
(ITU) estimated that, by the end of 2017, 48% of individual users regularly connect to the Internet, up from 34% in 2012.
Mobile Internet The mobile web refers to mobile browser-based World Wide Web services accessed from handheld mobile devices, such as smartphones or feature phones, through a mobile network, mobile or other wireless network. History and development Traditio ...
connectivity has played an important role in expanding access in recent years especially in Asia and the Pacific and in Africa. The number of unique mobile cellular subscriptions increased from 3.89 billion in 2012 to 4.83 billion in 2016, two-thirds of the world's population, with more than half of subscriptions located in Asia and the Pacific. The number of subscriptions is predicted to rise to 5.69 billion users in 2020. , almost 60% of the world's population had access to a 4G broadband cellular network, up from almost 50% in 2015 and 11% in 2012. The limits that users face on accessing information via mobile applications coincide with a broader process of fragmentation of the Internet. Fragmentation restricts access to media content and tends to affect poorest users the most. Zero-rating, the practice of Internet service providers allowing users free connectivity to access specific content or applications without cost, has offered opportunities to surmount economic hurdles, but has also been accused by its critics as creating a two-tiered Internet. To address the issues with zero-rating, an alternative model has emerged in the concept of 'equal rating' and is being tested in experiments by
Mozilla Mozilla (stylized as moz://a) is a free software community founded in 1998 by members of Netscape. The Mozilla community uses, develops, spreads and supports Mozilla products, thereby promoting exclusively free software and open standards, wi ...
and
Orange Orange most often refers to: *Orange (fruit), the fruit of the tree species '' Citrus'' × ''sinensis'' ** Orange blossom, its fragrant flower *Orange (colour), from the color of an orange, occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum * ...
in Africa. Equal rating prevents prioritization of one type of content and zero-rates all content up to a specified data cap. A study published by
Chatham House Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute headquartered in London. Its stated mission is to provide commentary on world events and offer solutions to global challenges. It is ...
, 15 out of 19 countries researched in Latin America had some kind of hybrid or zero-rated product offered. Some countries in the region had a handful of plans to choose from (across all mobile network operators) while others, such as
Colombia Colombia (, ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua's Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Ocean. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Cari ...
, offered as many as 30 pre-paid and 34 post-paid plans. A study of eight countries in the
Global South The concept of Global North and Global South (or North–South divide in a global context) is used to describe a grouping of countries along socio-economic and political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated w ...
found that zero-rated data plans exist in every country, although there is a great range in the frequency with which they are offered and actually used in each. The study looked at the top three to five carriers by market share in Bangladesh, Colombia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru and Philippines. Across the 181 plans examined, 13 per cent were offering zero-rated services. Another study, covering
Ghana Ghana (; tw, Gaana, ee, Gana), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It abuts the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, sharing borders with Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, and ...
,
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"() , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Nairobi , coordinates = , largest_city = Nairobi , ...
,
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
, found
Facebook Facebook is an online social media and social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dusti ...
's Free Basics and
Wikipedia Zero Wikipedia Zero was a project by the Wikimedia Foundation to provide access to Wikipedia free of charge on mobile phones via zero-rating, particularly in developing markets. The objective of the program was to facilitate access to free knowledge ...
to be the most commonly zero-rated content.


Internet Protocol Suite

The Internet standards describe a framework known as the
Internet protocol suite The Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, is a framework for organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks according to functional criteria. The foundational protocols in the suit ...
(also called
TCP/IP The Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, is a framework for organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks according to functional criteria. The foundational protocols in the suit ...
, based on the first two components.) This is a suite of protocols that are ordered into a set of four conceptional layers by the scope of their operation, originally documented in and . At the top is the
application layer An application layer is an abstraction layer that specifies the shared communications protocols and Interface (computing), interface methods used by Host (network), hosts in a communications network. An ''application layer'' abstraction is speci ...
, where communication is described in terms of the objects or data structures most appropriate for each application. For example, a web browser operates in a client–server application model and exchanges information with the
Hypertext Transfer Protocol The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application layer protocol in the Internet protocol suite model for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, w ...
(HTTP) and an application-germane data structure, such as the
Hypertext Markup Language The HyperText Markup Language or HTML is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be assisted by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript ...
(HTML). Below this top layer, the
transport layer In computer networking, the transport layer is a conceptual division of methods in the Abstraction layer, layered architecture of protocols in the network stack in the Internet protocol suite and the OSI model. The protocols of this layer p ...
connects applications on different hosts with a logical channel through the network. It provides this service with a variety of possible characteristics, such as ordered, reliable delivery (TCP), and an unreliable datagram service (UDP). Underlying these layers are the networking technologies that interconnect networks at their borders and exchange traffic across them. The
Internet layer The internet layer is a group of internetworking Internetworking is the practice of interconnecting multiple computer networks, such that any pair of hosts in the connected networks can exchange messages irrespective of their hardware-level ...
implements the
Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its routing function enables internetworking, and essentially establishes the Internet. IP h ...
(IP) which enables computers to identify and locate each other by
IP address An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as that is connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.. Updated by . An IP address serves two main functions: network interface Identi ...
, and route their traffic via intermediate (transit) networks. Updated by The internet protocol layer code is independent of the type of network that it is physically running over. At the bottom of the architecture is the link layer, which connects nodes on the same physical link, and contains protocols that do not require routers for traversal to other links. The protocol suite does not explicitly specify hardware methods to transfer bits, or protocols to manage such hardware, but assumes that appropriate technology is available. Examples of that technology include
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi () is a family of wireless network Communication protocol, protocols, based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for Wireless LAN, local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital d ...
,
Ethernet Ethernet () is a family of wired computer networking technologies commonly used in local area networks (LAN), metropolitan area networks (MAN) and wide area networks (WAN). It was commercially introduced in 1980 and first standardized in 198 ...
, and DSL.


Internet protocol

The most prominent component of the Internet model is the Internet Protocol (IP). IP enables internetworking and, in essence, establishes the Internet itself. Two versions of the Internet Protocol exist,
IPv4 Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its ro ...
and
IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communication protocol, communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic ...
.


IP Addresses

For locating individual computers on the network, the Internet provides
IP address An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as that is connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.. Updated by . An IP address serves two main functions: network interface Identi ...
es. IP addresses are used by the Internet infrastructure to direct internet packets to their destinations. They consist of fixed-length numbers, which are found within the packet. IP addresses are generally assigned to equipment either automatically via
DHCP The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a network management protocol used on Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across ne ...
, or are configured. However, the network also supports other addressing systems. Users generally enter
domain name A domain name is a String (computer science), string that identifies a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are often used to identify services provided through the Internet, such as websites, e ...
s (e.g. "en.wikipedia.org") instead of IP addresses because they are easier to remember, they are converted by the
Domain Name System The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical and distributed naming system for computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern d ...
(DNS) into IP addresses which are more efficient for routing purposes.


IPv4

Internet Protocol version 4 Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its ro ...
(IPv4) defines an IP address as a
32-bit In computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a description of the structure of a computer system made from component parts. It can sometimes be a high-level description that ignores details of the implementation. A ...
number. IPv4 is the initial version used on the first generation of the Internet and is still in dominant use. It was designed to address up to ≈4.3 billion (109) hosts. However, the explosive growth of the Internet has led to
IPv4 address exhaustion IPv4 address exhaustion is the depletion of the pool of unallocated IPv4 addresses. Because the original Internet architecture had fewer than 4.3 1000000000 (number), billion addresses available, depletion has been anticipated since the late 19 ...
, which entered its final stage in 2011, when the global IPv4 address allocation pool was exhausted.


IPv6

Because of the growth of the Internet and the depletion of available IPv4 addresses, a new version of IP
IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communication protocol, communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic ...
, was developed in the mid-1990s, which provides vastly larger addressing capabilities and more efficient routing of Internet traffic. IPv6 uses 128 bits for the IP address and was standardized in 1998.
IPv6 deployment Deployment of the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6 Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communication protocol, communications protocol that provides an identification and locati ...
has been ongoing since the mid-2000s and is currently in growing deployment around the world, since Internet address registries ( RIRs) began to urge all resource managers to plan rapid adoption and conversion. IPv6 is not directly interoperable by design with IPv4. In essence, it establishes a parallel version of the Internet not directly accessible with IPv4 software. Thus, translation facilities must exist for internetworking or nodes must have duplicate networking software for both networks. Essentially all modern computer operating systems support both versions of the Internet Protocol. Network infrastructure, however, has been lagging in this development. Aside from the complex array of physical connections that make up its infrastructure, the Internet is facilitated by bi- or multi-lateral commercial contracts, e.g., peering agreements, and by technical specifications or protocols that describe the exchange of data over the network. Indeed, the Internet is defined by its interconnections and routing policies.


Subnetwork

A ''
subnetwork A subnetwork or subnet is a logical subdivision of an IP network. Updated by RFC 6918. The practice of dividing a network into two or more networks is called subnetting. Computers that belong to the same subnet are addressed with an identical ...
'' or ''subnet'' is a logical subdivision of an
IP network The Internet protocol suite, commonly known as TCP/IP, is a framework for organizing the set of communication protocols used in the Internet and similar computer networks according to functional criteria. The foundational protocols in the suit ...
. Updated by RFC 6918. The practice of dividing a network into two or more networks is called ''subnetting''. Computers that belong to a subnet are addressed with an identical most-significant bit-group in their IP addresses. This results in the logical division of an IP address into two fields, the ''network number'' or ''routing prefix'' and the ''rest field'' or ''host identifier''. The ''rest field'' is an identifier for a specific
host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places *Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks County People *Jim Host (born 1937), American businessman *Michel Host ( ...
or network interface. The ''routing prefix'' may be expressed in
Classless Inter-Domain Routing Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR ) is a method for allocating IP addresses and for IP routing. The Internet Engineering Task Force introduced CIDR in 1993 to replace the previous classful network addressing architecture on the Internet. Its g ...
(CIDR) notation written as the first address of a network, followed by a slash character (''/''), and ending with the bit-length of the prefix. For example, is the prefix of the
Internet Protocol version 4 Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol The Internet Protocol (IP) is the network layer communications protocol in the Internet protocol suite for relaying datagrams across network boundaries. Its ro ...
network starting at the given address, having 24 bits allocated for the network prefix, and the remaining 8 bits reserved for host addressing. Addresses in the range to belong to this network. The IPv6 address specification is a large address block with 296 addresses, having a 32-bit routing prefix. For IPv4, a network may also be characterized by its ''subnet mask'' or ''netmask'', which is the
bitmask In computer science Computer science is the study of computation, automation, and information. Computer science spans theoretical disciplines (such as algorithms, theory of computation, information theory, and automation) to Applied sci ...
that when applied by a
bitwise AND In computer programming Computer programming is the process of performing a particular computation (or more generally, accomplishing a specific computing result), usually by designing and building an executable computer program. Programming ...
operation to any IP address in the network, yields the routing prefix. Subnet masks are also expressed in
dot-decimal notation Dot-decimal notation is a presentation format for numerical data. It consists of a string of decimal numbers, using the full stop (''dot'') as a Decimal separator#Digit grouping, separation character. A common use of dot-decimal notation is in inf ...
like an address. For example, is the subnet mask for the prefix . Traffic is exchanged between subnetworks through routers when the routing prefixes of the source address and the destination address differ. A router serves as a logical or physical boundary between the subnets. The benefits of subnetting an existing network vary with each deployment scenario. In the address allocation architecture of the Internet using CIDR and in large organizations, it is necessary to allocate address space efficiently. Subnetting may also enhance routing efficiency, or have advantages in network management when subnetworks are administratively controlled by different entities in a larger organization. Subnets may be arranged logically in a hierarchical architecture, partitioning an organization's network address space into a tree-like routing structure.


Routing

Computers and routers use
routing table In computer networking, a routing table, or routing information base (RIB), is a data table stored in a Router (computing), router or a network host that lists the routes to particular network destinations, and in some cases, Metrics (networking), ...
s in their operating system to direct IP packets to reach a node on a different subnetwork. Routing tables are maintained by manual configuration or automatically by
routing protocol A routing protocol specifies how routers communicate with each other to distribute information that enables them to select routes between nodes on a computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on o ...
s. End-nodes typically use a
default route In computer networking A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by Node (networking), network nodes. The computers use common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections t ...
that points toward an ISP providing transit, while ISP routers use the
Border Gateway Protocol Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is a standardized exterior gateway protocol designed to exchange routing and reachability information among autonomous systems (AS) on the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of i ...
to establish the most efficient routing across the complex connections of the global Internet. The
default gateway A default gateway is the node In general, a node is a localized swelling (a "knot") or a point of intersection (a Vertex (graph theory), vertex). Node may refer to: In mathematics *Vertex (graph theory), a vertex in a mathematical graph *Vertex ...
is the
node In general, a node is a localized swelling (a "knot") or a point of intersection (a Vertex (graph theory), vertex). Node may refer to: In mathematics *Vertex (graph theory), a vertex in a mathematical graph *Vertex (geometry), a point where two ...
that serves as the forwarding host (router) to other networks when no other route specification matches the destination
IP address An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as that is connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.. Updated by . An IP address serves two main functions: network interface Identi ...
of a packet.


IETF

While the hardware components in the Internet infrastructure can often be used to support other software systems, it is the design and the standardization process of the software that characterizes the Internet and provides the foundation for its scalability and success. The responsibility for the architectural design of the Internet software systems has been assumed by the
Internet Engineering Task Force The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a standards organization for the Internet standard, Internet and is responsible for the technical standards that make up the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP). It has no formal membership roster or ...
(IETF). The IETF conducts standard-setting work groups, open to any individual, about the various aspects of Internet architecture. The resulting contributions and standards are published as ''
Request for Comments A Request for Comments (RFC) is a publication in a series from the principal technical development and standards-setting bodies for the Internet, most prominently the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). An RFC is authored by individuals or g ...
'' (RFC) documents on the IETF web site. The principal methods of networking that enable the Internet are contained in specially designated RFCs that constitute the
Internet Standard In computer network engineering, an Internet Standard is a normative specification of a technology or methodology applicable to the Internet. Internet Standards are created and published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). They allow ...
s. Other less rigorous documents are simply informative, experimental, or historical, or document the best current practices (BCP) when implementing Internet technologies.


Applications and services

The Internet carries many applications and services, most prominently the World Wide Web, including
social media Social media are interactive media technologies that facilitate the Content creation, creation and information sharing, sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and Network virtualization, ...
,
electronic mail Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronics, electronic (digital media, digital) version of, or counterpart to, mail, ...
,
mobile app A mobile application or app is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a smartphone, phone, tablet computer, tablet, or smartwatch, watch. Mobile applications often stand in contrast to desktop appli ...
lications,
multiplayer online game A multiplayer video game is a video game in which more than one person can play in the same game environment at the same time, either locally on the same computing system (couch co-op), on different computing systems via a local area network, or ...
s,
Internet telephony Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also called IP telephony, is a method and group of technologies for the delivery of speech, voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The terms In ...
,
file sharing File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents or E-book, electronic books. Common methods of Computer data storage, storage, Data tran ...
, and
streaming media Streaming media is multimedia that is delivered and consumed in a continuous manner from a source, with little or no intermediate storage in network elements. ''Streaming'' refers to the delivery method of content, rather than the content it ...
services. Most servers that provide these services are today hosted in
data center A data center (American English) or data centre (British English)See American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, spelling differences. is a building, a dedicated space within a building, or a group of buildings used to house comp ...
s, and content is often accessed through high-performance
content delivery network A content delivery network, or content distribution network (CDN), is a geographically distributed network of proxy servers and their data centers. The goal is to provide high availability and performance by distributing the service spatially rel ...
s.


World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is a global collection of
documents A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought, often the manifestation of nonfiction, non-fictional, as well as fictional, content. The word originates from the Latin ''Documentum'', w ...
,
images An image is a visual representation of something. It can be two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or somehow otherwise feed into the visual system to convey information. An image can be an artifact, such as a photograph or other two-dimensiona ...
,
multimedia Multimedia is a form of communication that uses a combination of different content forms such as Text (literary theory), text, Sound, audio, Image, images, Animation, animations, or video into a single i ...
, applications, and other resources, logically interrelated by
hyperlink In computing, a hyperlink, or simply a link, is a digital reference to Data (computing), data that the user (computing), user can follow or be guided by point and click, clicking or touchscreen, tapping. A hyperlink points to a whole document ...
s and referenced with
Uniform Resource Identifier A Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) is a unique sequence of characters that identifies a logical or physical resource used by web technologies. URIs may be used to identify anything, including real-world objects, such as people and places, conc ...
s (URIs), which provide a global system of named references. URIs symbolically identify services,
web servers A web server is computer software and underlying Computer hardware, hardware that accepts requests via Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP (the network protocol created to distribute web content) or its secure variant HTTPS. A user agent, c ...
, databases, and the documents and resources that they can provide.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is an application layer protocol in the Internet protocol suite model for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web, w ...
(HTTP) is the main access protocol of the World Wide Web. Web services also use HTTP for communication between software systems for information transfer, sharing and exchanging business data and logistic and is one of many languages or protocols that can be used for communication on the Internet. World Wide Web browser software, such as
Microsoft Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational corporation, multinational technology company, technology corporation producing Software, computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services headquartered at th ...
's
Internet Explorer Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a series of graphical user interface, graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft which was used in the Microsoft Wind ...
/
Edge Edge or EDGE may refer to: Technology Computing * Edge computing, a network load-balancing system * Edge device, an entry point to a computer network * Adobe Edge, a graphical development application * Microsoft Edge, a web browser developed by ...
,
Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox, or simply Firefox, is a Free and open-source software, free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. It uses the Gecko (software), Gecko Browser engine, rend ...
,
Opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a ...
,
Apple An apple is an edible fruit produced by an apple tree (''Malus domestica''). Apple fruit tree, trees are agriculture, cultivated worldwide and are the most widely grown species in the genus ''Malus''. The tree originated in Central Asia, wh ...
's
Safari A safari (; ) is an overland journey to observe wildlife, wild animals, especially in East Africa, eastern or southern Africa. The so-called big five game, "Big Five" game animals of Africa – lion, African leopard, leopard, rhinoceros, Africa ...
, and
Google Chrome Google Chrome is a cross-platform web browser developed by Google. It was first released in 2008 for Microsoft Windows, built with free software components from Apple WebKit and Mozilla Firefox. Versions were later released for Linux, macOS, ...
, lets users navigate from one web page to another via the hyperlinks embedded in the documents. These documents may also contain any combination of
computer data In computer science, data (treated as singular, plural, or as a mass noun) is any sequence of one or more symbols; datum is a single symbol of data. Data requires interpretation to become information. Digital data is data that is represented us ...
, including graphics, sounds,
text Text may refer to: Written word * Text (literary theory) In literary theory Literary theory is the systematic research, study of the nature of literature and of the methods for literary analysis.Jonathan Culler, Culler 1997, p.1 Since the ...
,
video Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media. Video was first developed for mechanical television systems, which were quickly replaced by cathode-ray tube (CRT) ...
,
multimedia Multimedia is a form of communication that uses a combination of different content forms such as Text (literary theory), text, Sound, audio, Image, images, Animation, animations, or video into a single i ...
and interactive content that runs while the user is interacting with the page. Client-side software can include animations,
games A game is a structured form of play, usually undertaken for entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience or gives pleasure and delight. It can be an idea or a task, but ...
, office applications and scientific demonstrations. Through
keyword Keyword may refer to: Computing * Keyword (Internet search), a word or phrase typically used by bloggers or online content creator to rank a web page on a particular topic * Index term, a term used as a keyword to documents in an information syste ...
-driven Internet research using
search engines A search engine is a software system designed to carry out Web search query, web searches. They search the World Wide Web in a systematic way for particular information specified in a textual web search query. The Search engine results page, ...
like
Yahoo! Yahoo! (, styled yahoo''!'' in its logo) is an American web services provider. It is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California and operated by the namesake company Yahoo Inc., which is 90% owned by investment funds managed by Apollo Global M ...
,
Bing Bing most often refers to: * Bing Crosby (1903–1977), American singer * Microsoft Bing, a web search engine Bing may also refer to: Food and drink * Bing (bread), a Chinese flatbread * Bing (soft drink), a UK brand * Bing cherry, a variety ...
and
Google Google LLC () is an American Multinational corporation, multinational technology company focusing on Search Engine, search engine technology, online advertising, cloud computing, software, computer software, quantum computing, e-commerce, ar ...
, users worldwide have easy, instant access to a vast and diverse amount of online information. Compared to printed media, books, encyclopedias and traditional libraries, the World Wide Web has enabled the decentralization of information on a large scale. The Web has enabled individuals and organizations to
publish Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as books, newsp ...
ideas and information to a potentially large
audience An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature (in which they are called "readers"), theatre, music (in which they are called "listeners"), video games (in which they are called "players"), or ...
online at greatly reduced expense and time delay. Publishing a web page, a blog, or building a website involves little initial
cost In Production (economics), production, research, retail, and accounting, a cost is the value of money that has been used up to produce something or deliver a service, and hence is not available for use anymore. In business, the cost may be one o ...
and many cost-free services are available. However, publishing and maintaining large, professional web sites with attractive, diverse and up-to-date information is still a difficult and expensive proposition. Many individuals and some companies and groups use ''web logs'' or blogs, which are largely used as easily updatable online diaries. Some commercial organizations encourage staff to communicate advice in their areas of specialization in the hope that visitors will be impressed by the expert knowledge and free information, and be attracted to the corporation as a result.
Advertising Advertising is the practice and techniques employed to bring attention to a product or service. Advertising aims to put a product or service in the spotlight in hopes of drawing it attention from consumers. It is typically used to promote a ...
on popular web pages can be lucrative, and
e-commerce E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the activity of electronically buying or selling of Product (business), products on online services or over the Internet. E-commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, su ...
, which is the sale of products and services directly via the Web, continues to grow. Online advertising is a form of
marketing Marketing is the process of exploring, creating, and delivering value to meet the needs of a target market in terms of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to empha ...
and advertising which uses the Internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers. It includes email marketing,
search engine marketing Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising. SEM may incorporate search engine o ...
(SEM), social media marketing, many types of
display advertising Digital display advertising is online graphic advertising through banners, text, images, video, and audio. The main purpose of digital display advertising is to post company ads on third-party websites. A display ad is usually Interactive advert ...
(including
web banner A web banner or banner ad is a Online Advertising, form of advertising on the World Wide Web delivered by an ad server. This form of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a web page. It is intended to attract web traffic, ...
advertising), and
mobile advertising Mobile advertising is a form of advertising via Mobile phone, mobile (wireless) phones or other mobile devices. It is a subset of mobile marketing, mobile advertising can take place as text ads via SMS, or Web banner, banner advertisements that ...
. In 2011, Internet advertising revenues in the United States surpassed those of
cable television Cable television is a system of delivering television broadcast programming, programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fibre-optic cables. This ...
and nearly exceeded those of
broadcast television Broadcast television systems (or terrestrial television systems outside the US and Canada) are the encoding or formatting systems for the transmission and reception of terrestrial television signals. Analog television systems were standardized by ...
. Many common online advertising practices are controversial and increasingly subject to regulation. When the Web developed in the 1990s, a typical web page was stored in completed form on a web server, formatted in
HTML The HyperText Markup Language or HTML is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be assisted by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript ...
, complete for transmission to a web browser in response to a request. Over time, the process of creating and serving web pages has become dynamic, creating a flexible design, layout, and content. Websites are often created using
content management Content management (CM) is a set of processes and technologies that supports the collection, managing, and publishing of information in any form or medium. When stored and accessed via computers, this information may be more specifically referre ...
software with, initially, very little content. Contributors to these systems, who may be paid staff, members of an organization or the public, fill underlying databases with content using editing pages designed for that purpose while casual visitors view and read this content in HTML form. There may or may not be editorial, approval and security systems built into the process of taking newly entered content and making it available to the target visitors.


Communication

Email Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronics, electronic (digital media, digital) version of, or counterpart to, mail, ...
is an important communications service available via the Internet. The concept of sending electronic text messages between parties, analogous to mailing letters or memos, predates the creation of the Internet. Pictures, documents, and other files are sent as
email attachment An email attachment is a computer file sent along with an Email, email message. One or more files can be attached to any email message, and be sent along with it to the recipient. This is typically used as a simple method to share documents and ima ...
s. Email messages can be cc-ed to multiple
email address An email address identifies an email Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages ("mail") between people using electronic devices. Email was thus conceived as the electronics, electronic (digital media, digital) ...
es.
Internet telephony Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also called IP telephony, is a method and group of technologies for the delivery of speech, voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The terms In ...
is a common communications service realized with the Internet. The name of the principle internetworking protocol, the Internet Protocol, lends its name to
voice over Internet Protocol Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also called IP telephony, is a method and group of technologies for the delivery of speech, voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. The terms In ...
(VoIP). The idea began in the early 1990s with
walkie-talkie A walkie-talkie, more formally known as a handheld transceiver (HT), is a hand-held, portable, two-way radio transceiver. Its development during the Second World War has been variously credited to Donald Hings, radio engineer Alfred J. Gross, ...
-like voice applications for personal computers. VoIP systems now dominate many markets, and are as easy to use and as convenient as a traditional telephone. The benefit has been substantial cost savings over traditional telephone calls, especially over long distances. Cable,
ADSL Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) is a type of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over Copper wire, copper telephone lines than a conventional voiceband modem ...
, and mobile data networks provide
Internet access Internet access is the ability of individuals and organizations to connect to the Internet using computer terminals, computers, and other devices; and to access services such as email and the World Wide Web. Internet access is sold by Internet ...
in customer premises and inexpensive VoIP network adapters provide the connection for traditional analog telephone sets. The voice quality of VoIP often exceeds that of traditional calls. Remaining problems for VoIP include the situation that emergency services may not be universally available, and that devices rely on a local power supply, while older traditional phones are powered from the local loop, and typically operate during a power failure.


Data transfer

File sharing File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents or E-book, electronic books. Common methods of Computer data storage, storage, Data tran ...
is an example of transferring large amounts of data across the Internet. A
computer file A computer file is a System resource, computer resource for recording Data (computing), data in a Computer data storage, computer storage device, primarily identified by its Filename, file name. Just as words can be written to paper, so can data ...
can be emailed to customers, colleagues and friends as an attachment. It can be uploaded to a website or
File Transfer Protocol The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard communication protocol used for the transfer of computer files from a server to a client on a computer network. FTP is built on a client–server model architecture using separate control and data ...
(FTP) server for easy download by others. It can be put into a "shared location" or onto a
file server In computing, a file server (or fileserver) is a computer attached to a network that provides a location for shared disk access, i.e. storage of computer files (such as text, image, sound, video) that can be accessed by the workstations that are ab ...
for instant use by colleagues. The load of bulk downloads to many users can be eased by the use of "
mirror A mirror or looking glass is an object that Reflection (physics), reflects an image. Light that bounces off a mirror will show an image of whatever is in front of it, when focused through the lens of the eye or a camera. Mirrors reverse the ...
" servers or
peer-to-peer Peer-to-peer (P2P) computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads between peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the network. They are said to form a peer-to-peer ...
networks. In any of these cases, access to the file may be controlled by user
authentication Authentication (from ''authentikos'', "real, genuine", from αὐθέντης ''authentes'', "author") is the act of proof (truth), proving an Logical assertion, assertion, such as the Digital identity, identity of a computer system user. In ...
, the transit of the file over the Internet may be obscured by
encryption In cryptography, encryption is the process of Code, encoding information. This process converts the original representation of the information, known as plaintext, into an alternative form known as ciphertext. Ideally, only authorized parties can ...
, and money may change hands for access to the file. The price can be paid by the remote charging of funds from, for example, a credit card whose details are also passed—usually fully encrypted—across the Internet. The origin and authenticity of the file received may be checked by
digital signature A digital signature is a mathematical scheme for verifying the authenticity of digital messages or documents. A valid digital signature, where the prerequisites are satisfied, gives a recipient very high confidence that the message was created b ...
s or by MD5 or other message digests. These simple features of the Internet, over a worldwide basis, are changing the production, sale, and distribution of anything that can be reduced to a computer file for transmission. This includes all manner of print publications, software products, news, music, film, video, photography, graphics and the other arts. This in turn has caused seismic shifts in each of the existing industries that previously controlled the production and distribution of these products.
Streaming media Streaming media is multimedia that is delivered and consumed in a continuous manner from a source, with little or no intermediate storage in network elements. ''Streaming'' refers to the delivery method of content, rather than the content it ...
is the real-time delivery of digital media for the immediate consumption or enjoyment by end users. Many radio and television broadcasters provide Internet feeds of their live audio and video productions. They may also allow time-shift viewing or listening such as Preview, Classic Clips and Listen Again features. These providers have been joined by a range of pure Internet "broadcasters" who never had on-air licenses. This means that an Internet-connected device, such as a computer or something more specific, can be used to access on-line media in much the same way as was previously possible only with a television or radio receiver. The range of available types of content is much wider, from specialized technical
webcast A webcast is a media presentation distributed over the Internet using streaming media technology to distribute a single content source to many simultaneous listeners/viewers. A webcast may either be distributed live or on demand. Essentially, web ...
s to on-demand popular multimedia services.
Podcast A podcast is a Radio program, program made available in digital format for download over the Internet. For example, an Episode, episodic series of digital audio or video Computer file, files that a user can download to a personal device to l ...
ing is a variation on this theme, where—usually audio—material is downloaded and played back on a computer or shifted to a
portable media player A portable media player (PMP) (also including the related digital audio player (DAP)) is a portable consumer electronics device capable of storing and playing digital media such as audio, images, and video files. The data is typically stored o ...
to be listened to on the move. These techniques using simple equipment allow anybody, with little censorship or licensing control, to broadcast audio-visual material worldwide. Digital media streaming increases the demand for network bandwidth. For example, standard image quality needs 1 Mbit/s link speed for SD 480p, HD 720p quality requires 2.5 Mbit/s, and the top-of-the-line HDX quality needs 4.5 Mbit/s for 1080p.
Webcam A webcam is a video camera which is designed to record or stream to a computer or computer network. They are primarily used in videotelephony, livestreaming and social media, and Closed-circuit television, security. Webcams can be built-in compute ...
s are a low-cost extension of this phenomenon. While some webcams can give full-frame-rate video, the picture either is usually small or updates slowly. Internet users can watch animals around an African waterhole, ships in the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximatel ...
, traffic at a local roundabout or monitor their own premises, live and in real time. Video
chat rooms The term chat room, or chatroom (and sometimes group chat; abbreviated as GC), is primarily used to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing. The term can thus mean any technology, ranging from r ...
and
video conferencing Videotelephony, also known as videoconferencing and video teleconferencing, is the two-way or multipoint reception and transmission of audio signal, audio and video signals by people in different locations for Real-time, real time communication. ...
are also popular with many uses being found for personal webcams, with and without two-way sound. YouTube was founded on 15 February 2005 and is now the leading website for free streaming video with more than two billion users. It uses an HTML5 based web player by default to stream and show video files. Registered users may upload an unlimited amount of video and build their own personal profile.
YouTube YouTube is a global online video sharing and social media platform headquartered in San Bruno, California. It was launched on February 14, 2005, by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. It is owned by Google, and is the second mo ...
claims that its users watch hundreds of millions, and upload hundreds of thousands of videos daily.


Social impact

The Internet has enabled new forms of social interaction, activities, and social associations. This phenomenon has given rise to the scholarly study of the
sociology of the Internet The sociology of the Internet involves the application of sociological theory and method to the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/ ...
.


Users

From 2000 to 2009, the number of Internet users globally rose from 394 million to 1.858 billion. By 2010, 22 percent of the world's population had access to computers with 1 billion
Google Google LLC () is an American Multinational corporation, multinational technology company focusing on Search Engine, search engine technology, online advertising, cloud computing, software, computer software, quantum computing, e-commerce, ar ...
searches every day, 300 million Internet users reading blogs, and 2 billion videos viewed daily on
YouTube YouTube is a global online video sharing and social media platform headquartered in San Bruno, California. It was launched on February 14, 2005, by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. It is owned by Google, and is the second mo ...
. In 2014 the world's Internet users surpassed 3 billion or 43.6 percent of world population, but two-thirds of the users came from richest countries, with 78.0 percent of Europe countries population using the Internet, followed by 57.4 percent of the Americas. However, by 2018, Asia alone accounted for 51% of all Internet users, with 2.2 billion out of the 4.3 billion Internet users in the world coming from that region. The number of China's Internet users surpassed a major milestone in 2018, when the country's Internet regulatory authority, China Internet Network Information Centre, announced that China had 802 million Internet users. By 2019, China was the world's leading country in terms of Internet users, with more than 800 million users, followed closely by India, with some 700 million users, with the United States a distant third with 275 million users. However, in terms of penetration, China has a 38.4% penetration rate compared to India's 40% and the United States's 80%. As of 2020, it was estimated that 4.5 billion people use the Internet, more than half of the world's population. The prevalent language for communication via the Internet has always been English. This may be a result of the origin of the Internet, as well as the language's role as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a Natural language, language systematically used to make communication possib ...
and as a
world language In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any or all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context (language use), context, on the way language is used, and societ ...
. Early computer systems were limited to the characters in the
American Standard Code for Information Interchange ASCII ( ), abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding Character encoding is the process of assigning numbers to Graphics, graphical character (computing), characters, especially the written ...
(ASCII), a subset of the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the Ancient Rome, ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Largely unaltered with the exception of extensions (such as diacritics), it used to write Eng ...
. After English (27%), the most requested languages on the World Wide Web are Chinese (25%), Spanish (8%), Japanese (5%), Portuguese and German (4% each), Arabic, French and Russian (3% each), and Korean (2%). By region, 42% of the world's Internet users are based in Asia, 24% in Europe, 14% in North America, 10% in Latin America and the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
taken together, 6% in Africa, 3% in the Middle East and 1% in Australia/Oceania. The Internet's technologies have developed enough in recent years, especially in the use of
Unicode Unicode, formally The Unicode Standard,The formal version reference is is an information technology standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard, ...
, that good facilities are available for development and communication in the world's widely used languages. However, some glitches such as ''
mojibake Mojibake ( ja, 文字化け; , "character transformation") is the garbled text that is the result of text being decoded using an unintended character encoding. The result is a systematic replacement of symbols with completely unrelated ones, ofte ...
'' (incorrect display of some languages' characters) still remain. In an American study in 2005, the percentage of men using the Internet was very slightly ahead of the percentage of women, although this difference reversed in those under 30. Men logged on more often, spent more time online, and were more likely to be broadband users, whereas women tended to make more use of opportunities to communicate (such as email). Men were more likely to use the Internet to pay bills, participate in auctions, and for recreation such as downloading music and videos. Men and women were equally likely to use the Internet for shopping and banking. More recent studies indicate that in 2008, women significantly outnumbered men on most social networking services, such as Facebook and Myspace, although the ratios varied with age. In addition, women watched more streaming content, whereas men downloaded more. In terms of blogs, men were more likely to blog in the first place; among those who blog, men were more likely to have a professional blog, whereas women were more likely to have a personal blog. Splitting by country, in 2012 Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark had the highest Internet penetration by the number of users, with 93% or more of the population with access."Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000–2012"
, International Telecommunication Union (Geneva), June 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
Several neologisms exist that refer to Internet users:
Netizen The term netizen is a portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of words
(as in "citizen of the net") refers to those actively involved in improving
online communities An online community, also called an internet community or web community, is a community whose members interact with each other primarily via the Internet. Members of the community usually share common interests. For many, online communities may fe ...
, the Internet in general or surrounding political affairs and rights such as
free speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom is understood as either having the ability to act or change without constraint or to possess the power and resources to fulfill one's purposes unhindered. Freedom is oft ...
, Internaut refers to operators or technically highly capable users of the Internet,
digital citizen The term digital citizen is used with different meanings. According to the definition provided by Karen Mossberger, one of the authors of ''Digital Citizenship: The Internet, Society, and Participation'', digital citizens are "those who use the i ...
refers to a person using the Internet in order to engage in society, politics, and government participation. InternetUsersByLanguagePieChart.svg, WebsitesByLanguagePieChart.svg,


Usage

The Internet allows greater flexibility in working hours and location, especially with the spread of unmetered high-speed connections. The Internet can be accessed almost anywhere by numerous means, including through
mobile Internet device A mobile Internet device (MID) is a multimedia capable mobile device providing wireless networking, wireless Internet access. They are designed to provide entertainment, information and location-based services for personal or business use. They al ...
s. Mobile phones,
datacard A datacard is an electronics, electronic card for data operations (storage, transfer, transformation, input, output). Datacard types Datacards can be sorted by their purposes: # Expansion card – Printed circuit board, printed-circuit board: inse ...
s,
handheld game console A handheld game console, or simply handheld console, is a small, portable self-contained video game console with a built-in screen, game controls and speakers. Handheld game consoles are smaller than home video game consoles and contain the cons ...
s and cellular routers allow users to connect to the Internet
wireless Wireless communication (or just wireless, when the context allows) is the transfer of information between two or more points without the use of an electrical conductor, optical fiber An optical fiber, or optical fibre in Commonwealth E ...
ly. Within the limitations imposed by small screens and other limited facilities of such pocket-sized devices, the services of the Internet, including email and the web, may be available. Service providers may restrict the services offered and mobile data charges may be significantly higher than other access methods. Educational material at all levels from pre-school to post-doctoral is available from websites. Examples range from
CBeebies CBeebies is a British free-to-air Public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom, public broadcast children's television channel owned and operated by the BBC. It is also the brand used for all BBC content for children aged 6 years and unde ...
, through school and high-school revision guides and virtual universities, to access to top-end scholarly literature through the likes of
Google Scholar Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of Academic publishing, scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. Released in Beta release, beta in November 2004, the ...
. For
distance education Distance education, also known as distance learning, is the education of students who may not always be physically present at a school, or where the learner and the teacher are separated in both time and distance. Traditionally, this usually in ...
, help with
homework Homework is a set of tasks assigned to students by their teachers to be completed outside the classroom. Common homework assignments may include required reading, a writing or typing project, Exercise (mathematics), mathematical exercises to b ...
and other assignments, self-guided learning, whiling away spare time or just looking up more detail on an interesting fact, it has never been easier for people to access educational information at any level from anywhere. The Internet in general and the World Wide Web in particular are important enablers of both formal and
informal education Informal education is a general term for education that can occur outside of a structured curriculum. Informal education encompasses student interests within a curriculum in a regular classroom, but is not limited to that setting. It works through ...
. Further, the Internet allows researchers (especially those from the social and behavioral sciences) to conduct research remotely via virtual laboratories, with profound changes in reach and generalizability of findings as well as in communication between scientists and in the publication of results. The low cost and nearly instantaneous sharing of ideas, knowledge, and skills have made
collaborative Collaboration (from Latin ''com-'' "with" + ''laborare'' "to labor", "to work") is the process of two or more people, entities or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is similar to cooperation. Most ...
work dramatically easier, with the help of
collaborative software Collaborative software or groupware is application software designed to help people working on a common task to attain their goals. One of the earliest definitions of groupware is "intentional group processes plus software to support them". As re ...
. Not only can a group cheaply communicate and share ideas but the wide reach of the Internet allows such groups more easily to form. An example of this is the
free software movement The free software movement is a social movement with the goal of obtaining and guaranteeing certain freedoms for software users, namely the freedoms to run the software, to study the software, to modify the software, and to share copies of the s ...
, which has produced, among other things,
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of free and open-source software, open-source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an kernel (operating system), operating system kernel first released on September 17, 1991, by Linus Torvalds. Linu ...
,
Mozilla Firefox Mozilla Firefox, or simply Firefox, is a Free and open-source software, free and open-source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation and its subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation. It uses the Gecko (software), Gecko Browser engine, rend ...
, and OpenOffice.org (later forked into
LibreOffice LibreOffice () is a free and open-source productivity software, office productivity software suite, a project of The Document Foundation (TDF). It was fork (software development), forked in 2010 from OpenOffice.org, an open-sourced version of t ...
). Internet chat, whether using an IRC chat room, an
instant messaging Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat allowing real-time text transmission over the Internet or another computer network. Messages are typically transmitted between two or more parties, when each user inputs text and trigge ...
system, or a social networking service, allows colleagues to stay in touch in a very convenient way while working at their computers during the day. Messages can be exchanged even more quickly and conveniently than via email. These systems may allow files to be exchanged, drawings and images to be shared, or voice and video contact between team members.
Content management Content management (CM) is a set of processes and technologies that supports the collection, managing, and publishing of information in any form or medium. When stored and accessed via computers, this information may be more specifically referre ...
systems allow collaborating teams to work on shared sets of documents simultaneously without accidentally destroying each other's work. Business and project teams can share calendars as well as documents and other information. Such collaboration occurs in a wide variety of areas including scientific research, software development, conference planning, political activism and creative writing. Social and political collaboration is also becoming more widespread as both Internet access and
computer literacy Computer literacy is defined as the knowledge and ability to use computers and related technology efficiently, with skill levels ranging from elementary use to computer programming and advanced problem solving. Computer literacy can also refer ...
spread. The Internet allows computer users to remotely access other computers and information stores easily from any access point. Access may be with
computer security Computer security, cybersecurity (cyber security), or information technology security (IT security) is the protection of computer systems and computer network, networks from attack by malicious actors that may result in unauthorized informati ...
, i.e. authentication and encryption technologies, depending on the requirements. This is encouraging new ways of
remote work Remote work, also called work from home (WFH), work from anywhere, telework, remote job, mobile work, and distance work is an employment arrangement in which employees do not commuting, commute to a central place of work, such as an office bui ...
, collaboration and information sharing in many industries. An accountant sitting at home can
audit An audit is an "independent examination of financial information of any entity, whether profit oriented or not, irrespective of its size or legal form when such an examination is conducted with a view to express an opinion thereon.” Auditing ...
the books of a company based in another country, on a server situated in a third country that is remotely maintained by IT specialists in a fourth. These accounts could have been created by home-working bookkeepers, in other remote locations, based on information emailed to them from offices all over the world. Some of these things were possible before the widespread use of the Internet, but the cost of private
leased line A leased line is a private telecommunications circuit between two or more locations provided according to a commercial contract. It is sometimes also known as a private circuit, and as a data line in the UK. Typically, leased lines are used by ...
s would have made many of them infeasible in practice. An office worker away from their desk, perhaps on the other side of the world on a business trip or a holiday, can access their emails, access their data using
cloud computing Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user. Large clouds often have functions distributed computing, ...
, or open a
remote desktop In computing, the term remote desktop refers to a software- or operating system feature that allows a personal computer's desktop environment to be run remotely off of one system (usually a PC, but the concept applies equally to a server (comp ...
session into their office PC using a secure
virtual private network A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. The be ...
(VPN) connection on the Internet. This can give the worker complete access to all of their normal files and data, including email and other applications, while away from the office. It has been referred to among
system administrator A system administrator, or sysadmin, or admin is a person who is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems, especially multi-user computers, such as servers. The system administrator seeks to en ...
s as the Virtual Private Nightmare, because it extends the secure perimeter of a corporate network into remote locations and its employees' homes. By late 2010s Internet has been described as "the main source of scientific information "for the majority of the global North population".


Social networking and entertainment

Many people use the World Wide Web to access news, weather and sports reports, to plan and book vacations and to pursue their personal interests. People use
chat Chat or chats may refer to: Communication * Conversation, particularly casual * Online chat, text message communication over the Internet in real-time * Synchronous conferencing, a formal term for online chat * SMS chat, a form of text messagin ...
, messaging and email to make and stay in touch with friends worldwide, sometimes in the same way as some previously had
pen pal Pen pals (or penpals, pen-pals, penfriends or pen friends) are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail. Pen pals are usually strangers whose relationship is based primarily, or even solely, on their exchange of let ...
s. Social networking services such as
Facebook Facebook is an online social media and social networking service owned by American company Meta Platforms. Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dusti ...
have created new ways to socialize and interact. Users of these sites are able to add a wide variety of information to pages, pursue common interests, and connect with others. It is also possible to find existing acquaintances, to allow communication among existing groups of people. Sites like
LinkedIn LinkedIn () is an American business and employment Employment is a relationship between two party (law), parties Regulation, regulating the provision of paid Labour (human activity), labour services. Usually based on a employment contract ...
foster commercial and business connections. YouTube and
Flickr Flickr ( ; ) is an American image hosting service, image hosting and Online video platform, video hosting service, as well as an online community, founded in Canada and headquartered in the United States. It was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and w ...
specialize in users' videos and photographs. Social networking services are also widely used by businesses and other organizations to promote their brands, to market to their customers and to encourage posts to " go viral". "Black hat" social media techniques are also employed by some organizations, such as
spam Spam may refer to: * Spam (food), a canned pork meat product * Spamming, unsolicited or undesired electronic messages ** Email spam, unsolicited, undesired, or illegal email messages ** Messaging spam, spam targeting users of instant messagin ...
accounts and
astroturfing Astroturfing is the practice of masking the Sponsor (commercial), sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots pa ...
. A risk for both individuals and organizations writing posts (especially public posts) on social networking services, is that especially foolish or controversial posts occasionally lead to an unexpected and possibly large-scale backlash on social media from other Internet users. This is also a risk in relation to controversial ''offline'' behavior, if it is widely made known. The nature of this backlash can range widely from counter-arguments and public mockery, through insults and
hate speech Hate speech is defined by the ''Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary'' as "public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual or ...
, to, in extreme cases, rape and death
threats A threat is a communication of intent to inflict harm or loss on another person. Intimidation is a tactic used between conflicting parties to make the other timid or psychologically insecure for coercion or control. The act of intimidation for co ...
. The
online disinhibition effect Online disinhibition effect is the lack of restraint one feels when communicating online in comparison to communicating in-person. People feel safer saying things online which they would not say in real life because they have the ability to remain ...
describes the tendency of many individuals to behave more stridently or offensively online than they would in person. A significant number of
feminist Feminism is a range of socio-political movements and ideology, ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social gender equality, equality of the sexes. Feminism incorporates the position that socie ...
women have been the target of various forms of
harassment Harassment covers a wide range of behaviors of wikt:offensive, offensive nature. It is commonly understood as behavior that demeans, humiliates or embarrasses a person, and it is characteristically identified by its unlikelihood in terms of soc ...
in response to posts they have made on social media, and Twitter in particular has been criticised in the past for not doing enough to aid victims of online abuse. For organizations, such a backlash can cause overall brand damage, especially if reported by the media. However, this is not always the case, as any brand damage in the eyes of people with an opposing opinion to that presented by the organization could sometimes be outweighed by strengthening the brand in the eyes of others. Furthermore, if an organization or individual gives in to demands that others perceive as wrong-headed, that can then provoke a counter-backlash. Some websites, such as
Reddit Reddit (; stylized in all lowercase as reddit) is an American social news news aggregator, aggregation, Review site#Rating site, content rating, and Internet forum, discussion website. Registered users (commonly referred to as "Redditors") subm ...
, have rules forbidding the posting of
personal information Personal data, also known as personal information or personally identifiable information (PII), is any information related to an identifiable person. The abbreviation PII is widely accepted in the United States, but the phrase it abbreviates ha ...
of individuals (also known as
doxxing Doxing or doxxing is the act of publicly providing personally identifiable information about an individual or organization, usually via the internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks ...
), due to concerns about such postings leading to mobs of large numbers of Internet users directing harassment at the specific individuals thereby identified. In particular, the Reddit rule forbidding the posting of personal information is widely understood to imply that all identifying photos and names must be
censored Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information. This may be done on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or "inconvenient". Censorship can be conducted by governments ...
in Facebook screenshots posted to Reddit. However, the interpretation of this rule in relation to public Twitter posts is less clear, and in any case, like-minded people online have many other ways they can use to direct each other's attention to public social media posts they disagree with. Children also face dangers online such as
cyberbullying Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is a form of bullying Bullying is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat, to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential pr ...
and approaches by sexual predators, who sometimes pose as children themselves. Children may also encounter material which they may find upsetting, or material that their parents consider to be not age-appropriate. Due to naivety, they may also post personal information about themselves online, which could put them or their families at risk unless warned not to do so. Many parents choose to enable Internet filtering or supervise their children's online activities in an attempt to protect their children from inappropriate material on the Internet. The most popular social networking services, such as Facebook and Twitter, commonly forbid users under the age of 13. However, these policies are typically trivial to circumvent by registering an account with a false birth date, and a significant number of children aged under 13 join such sites anyway. Social networking services for younger children, which claim to provide better levels of protection for children, also exist. The Internet has been a major outlet for leisure activity since its inception, with entertaining social experiments such as
MUD A MUD (; originally multi-user dungeon, with later variants multi-user dimension and multi-user domain) is a multiplayer A multiplayer video game is a video game in which more than one person can play in the same game environment at the same ...
s and MOOs being conducted on university servers, and humor-related
Usenet Usenet () is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose UUCP, Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up network architecture. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis (computing), Jim Ellis conceived th ...
groups receiving much traffic. Many
Internet forums An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are often longer than one line of text, and are at least temporar ...
have sections devoted to games and funny videos. The
Internet pornography Internet pornography is any pornography that is accessible over the internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between ...
and
online gambling Online gambling is any kind of gambling Gambling (also known as betting or gaming) is the wagering of something of Value (economics), value ("the stakes") on a Event (probability theory), random event with the intent of winning something els ...
industries have taken advantage of the World Wide Web. Although many governments have attempted to restrict both industries' use of the Internet, in general, this has failed to stop their widespread popularity. Another area of leisure activity on the Internet is multiplayer gaming. This form of recreation creates communities, where people of all ages and origins enjoy the fast-paced world of multiplayer games. These range from
MMORPG A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) is a video game that combines aspects of a role-playing video game and a massively multiplayer online game. As in role-playing games (RPGs), the player assumes the role of a Player charac ...
to
first-person shooter First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre, sub-genre of shooter video games centered on gun and other weapon-based combat in a First person (video games), first-person perspective, with the player experiencing the action through the eye ...
s, from
role-playing video game A role-playing video game (commonly referred to as simply a role-playing game or RPG, as well as a computer role-playing game or CRPG) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it i ...
s to
online gambling Online gambling is any kind of gambling Gambling (also known as betting or gaming) is the wagering of something of Value (economics), value ("the stakes") on a Event (probability theory), random event with the intent of winning something els ...
. While online gaming has been around since the 1970s, modern modes of online gaming began with subscription services such as
GameSpy GameSpy was an American provider of online multiplayer and Matchmaking (video games), matchmaking middleware for video games founded in 1996 by Mark Surfas. After the release of a multiplayer server browser for the game, QSpy, Surfas licensed t ...
and
MPlayer MPlayer is a free and open-source media player software application. It is available for Linux, OS X and Microsoft Windows. Versions for OS/2, Syllable Desktop, Syllable, AmigaOS, MorphOS and AROS Research Operating System are also available. A ...
. Non-subscribers were limited to certain types of game play or certain games. Many people use the Internet to access and download music, movies and other works for their enjoyment and relaxation. Free and fee-based services exist for all of these activities, using centralized servers and distributed peer-to-peer technologies. Some of these sources exercise more care with respect to the original artists' copyrights than others. Internet usage has been correlated to users' loneliness. Lonely people tend to use the Internet as an outlet for their feelings and to share their stories with others, such as in the " I am lonely will anyone speak to me" thread. A 2017 book claimed that the Internet consolidates most aspects of human endeavor into singular arenas of which all of humanity are potential members and competitors, with fundamentally negative impacts on mental health as a result. While successes in each field of activity are pervasively visible and trumpeted, they are reserved for an extremely thin sliver of the world's most exceptional, leaving everyone else behind. Whereas, before the Internet, expectations of success in any field were supported by reasonable probabilities of achievement at the village, suburb, city or even state level, the same expectations in the Internet world are virtually certain to bring disappointment today: there is always someone else, somewhere on the planet, who can do better and take the now one-and-only top spot. Cybersectarianism is a new organizational form which involves: "highly dispersed small groups of practitioners that may remain largely anonymous within the larger social context and operate in relative secrecy, while still linked remotely to a larger network of believers who share a set of practices and texts, and often a common devotion to a particular leader. Overseas supporters provide funding and support; domestic practitioners distribute tracts, participate in acts of resistance, and share information on the internal situation with outsiders. Collectively, members and practitioners of such sects construct viable virtual communities of faith, exchanging personal testimonies and engaging in the collective study via email, on-line chat rooms, and web-based message boards." In particular, the British government has raised concerns about the prospect of young British Muslims being indoctrinated into Islamic extremism by material on the Internet, being persuaded to join
terrorist Terrorism, in its broadest sense, is the use of criminal violence to provoke a state of terror or fear, mostly with the intention to achieve political or religious aims. The term is used in this regard primarily to refer to intentional violen ...
groups such as the so-called "
Islamic State An Islamic state is a State (polity), state that has a form of government based on sharia, Islamic law (sharia). As a term, it has been used to describe various historical Polity, polities and theories of governance in the Islamic world. As a t ...
", and then potentially committing acts of terrorism on returning to Britain after fighting in Syria or Iraq. Cyberslacking can become a drain on corporate resources; the average UK employee spent 57 minutes a day surfing the Web while at work, according to a 2003 study by Peninsula Business Services.
Internet addiction disorder Problematic internet use or pathological internet use is generally defined as problematic, compulsive use of the internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet prot ...
is excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Nicholas G. Carr believes that Internet use has other effects on individuals, for instance improving skills of scan-reading and interfering with the deep thinking that leads to true creativity.


Electronic business

Electronic business Electronic business (or "Online Business" or "e-business") is any kind of business or commercial transaction that includes sharing information across the internet. Commerce constitutes the exchange of products and services between businesses, grou ...
(''e-business'') encompasses business processes spanning the entire
value chain A value chain is a progression of activities that a firm operating in a specific industry performs in order to deliver a valuable product (business), product (i.e., Goods, good and/or Service (economics), service) to the end customer. The concept ...
: purchasing,
supply chain management In commerce Commerce is the large-scale organized system of activities, functions, procedures and institutions directly and indirectly related to the exchange (buying and selling) of goods and services among two or more parties within lo ...
,
marketing Marketing is the process of exploring, creating, and delivering value to meet the needs of a target market in terms of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to empha ...
,
sales Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale. The seller, or the provider of the goods or services, completes a sale in ...
,
customer In sales, commerce, and economics, a customer (sometimes known as a :wikt:client, client, buyer, or purchasing, purchaser) is the recipient of a Good (economics), good, service (economics), service, product (business), product or an Intellectual p ...
service, and business relationship.
E-commerce E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the activity of electronically buying or selling of Product (business), products on online services or over the Internet. E-commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, su ...
seeks to add revenue streams using the Internet to build and enhance relationships with clients and partners. According to
International Data Corporation International Data Group (IDG, Inc.) is a market intelligence and demand generation company focused on the technology industry. IDG, Inc.’s mission is centered around supporting the technology industry through research, data, marketing technol ...
, the size of worldwide e-commerce, when global business-to-business and -consumer transactions are combined, equate to $16 trillion for 2013. A report by Oxford Economics added those two together to estimate the total size of the
digital economy The digital economy is a portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of words
at $20.4 trillion, equivalent to roughly 13.8% of global sales. While much has been written of the economic advantages of Internet-enabled commerce, there is also evidence that some aspects of the Internet such as maps and location-aware services may serve to reinforce
economic inequality There are wide varieties of economic inequality, most notably income inequality measured using the distribution of income (the amount of money people are paid) and wealth inequality measured using the distribution of wealth (the amount of we ...
and the
digital divide The digital divide is the unequal access to information technology, digital technology, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and the internet. The digital divide creates a division and inequality around access to information and resources. I ...
. Electronic commerce may be responsible for consolidation and the decline of
mom-and-pop Small businesses are types of corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships which have fewer employees and/or less annual revenue than a regular-sized business or corporation. Businesses are defined as "small" in terms of being able to ap ...
,
brick and mortar Brick and mortar (also bricks and mortar or B&M) refers to a physical presence of an organization or business in a building or other structure. The term ''brick-and-mortar business'' is often used to refer to a company that possesses or leases ...
businesses resulting in increases in
income inequality There are wide varieties of economic inequality, most notably income inequality measured using the distribution of income (the amount of money people are paid) and wealth inequality measured using the distribution of wealth (the amount of we ...
. Author
Andrew Keen Andrew Keen (born c. 1960Saracevic, Alan T. (15 October 2006)Debate 2.0 / Weighing the merits of the new Webocracy.''San Francisco Chronicle'' ("Age: 46")) is a British-American entrepreneur and author. He is particularly known for his view tha ...
, a long-time critic of the social transformations caused by the Internet, has focused on the economic effects of consolidation from Internet businesses. Keen cites a 2013
Institute for Local Self-Reliance The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO) or non-profit organisation, also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized ...
report saying brick-and-mortar retailers employ 47 people for every $10 million in sales while Amazon employs only 14. Similarly, the 700-employee room rental start-up
Airbnb Airbnb, Inc. ( ), based in San Francisco, California, operates an online marketplace focused on short-term homestays and experiences. The company acts as a broker and charges a commission from each booking. The company was founded in 2008 ...
was valued at $10 billion in 2014, about half as much as
Hilton Worldwide Hilton Worldwide (legally Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.) is an American multinational corporation, multinational hospitality company that manages and franchises a broad portfolio of hotels and resorts. Founded by Conrad Hilton in May 1919, the ...
, which employs 152,000 people. At that time,
Uber Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber), based in San Francisco, provides mobility as a service, Ridesharing company, ride-hailing (allowing users to book a car and driver to transport them in a way similar to a taxi), food delivery (Uber Eats an ...
employed 1,000 full-time employees and was valued at $18.2 billion, about the same valuation as Avis Rent a Car and
The Hertz Corporation The Hertz Corporation is an American car rental A car rental, hire car or car hire agency is a company that renting, rents automobiles for short periods of time to the public, generally ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. It is often or ...
combined, which together employed almost 60,000 people.


Remote work

Remote work Remote work, also called work from home (WFH), work from anywhere, telework, remote job, mobile work, and distance work is an employment arrangement in which employees do not commuting, commute to a central place of work, such as an office bui ...
is facilitated by tools such as groupware, virtual private networks, conference calling,
videotelephony Videotelephony, also known as videoconferencing and video teleconferencing, is the two-way or multipoint reception and transmission of audio signal, audio and video signals by people in different locations for Real-time, real time communication. ...
, and VoIP so that work may be performed from any location, most conveniently the worker's home. It can be efficient and useful for companies as it allows workers to communicate over long distances, saving significant amounts of travel time and cost. More workers have adequate bandwidth at home to use these tools to link their home to their corporate
intranet An intranet is a computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by Node (networking), network nodes. The computers use common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interco ...
and internal communication networks.


Collaborative publishing

Wiki A wiki ( ) is an online hypertext publication Collaborative editing, collaboratively edited and managed by its own audience, using a web browser. A typical wiki contains multiple pages for the subjects or scope of the project, and could be ...
s have also been used in the academic community for sharing and dissemination of information across institutional and international boundaries. In those settings, they have been found useful for collaboration on grant writing,
strategic planning Strategic planning is an organization's business process, process of defining its strategy or direction, and making decision making, decisions on allocating its resources to attain strategic goals. It may also extend to control mechanisms for gu ...
, departmental documentation, and committee work. The
United States Patent and Trademark Office The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency in the United States Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Commerce that serves as the national patent office and trademark ...
uses a wiki to allow the public to collaborate on finding
prior art Prior art (also known as state of the art or background art) is a concept in patent law used to determine the patentability of an invention, in particular whether an invention meets the Novelty (patent), novelty and the inventive step or non-obvio ...
relevant to examination of pending patent applications.
Queens Queens is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Located on Long Island, it is the largest New York City borough by area. It is bordered by the boro ...
, New York has used a wiki to allow citizens to collaborate on the design and planning of a local park. The
English Wikipedia The English Wikipedia is, along with the Simple English Wikipedia, one of two English language, English-language editions of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. It was founded on January 15, 2001, as Wikipedia's first edition, and, as of , ...
has the largest user base among wikis on the World Wide Web and ranks in the top 10 among all Web sites in terms of traffic.


Politics and political revolutions

The Internet has achieved new relevance as a political tool. The presidential campaign of
Howard Dean Howard Brush Dean III (born November 17, 1948) is an American physician, author, lobbyist, and retired politician who served as the 79th governor of Vermont from 1991 to 2003 and chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) from 2005 to 2009 ...
in 2004 in the United States was notable for its success in soliciting donation via the Internet. Many political groups use the Internet to achieve a new method of organizing for carrying out their mission, having given rise to
Internet activism Internet activism is the use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, e-mail, and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster and more effective communication by citizen social movement, movements, the delivery of ...
, most notably practiced by rebels in the
Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in Tunisia in response to corruption and econ ...
. ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' suggested that
social media Social media are interactive media technologies that facilitate the Content creation, creation and information sharing, sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and Network virtualization, ...
websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, helped people organize the political revolutions in Egypt, by helping activists organize protests, communicate grievances, and disseminate information. Many have understood the Internet as an extension of the Habermasian notion of the ''
public sphere The public sphere (german: Öffentlichkeit) is an area in social relation, social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action. A "Public" is "of ...
'', observing how network communication technologies provide something like a global civic forum. However, incidents of politically motivated
Internet censorship Internet censorship is the legal control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protoco ...
have now been recorded in many countries, including western democracies.


Philanthropy

The spread of low-cost Internet access in developing countries has opened up new possibilities for
peer-to-peer Peer-to-peer (P2P) computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads between peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the network. They are said to form a peer-to-peer ...
charities, which allow individuals to contribute small amounts to charitable projects for other individuals. Websites, such as
DonorsChoose DonorsChoose is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. s ...
and GlobalGiving, allow small-scale donors to direct funds to individual projects of their choice. A popular twist on Internet-based philanthropy is the use of
peer-to-peer lending Peer-to-peer lending, also abbreviated as P2P lending, is the practice of loan, lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders with borrowers. Peer-to-peer lending companies often offer their services online ...
for charitable purposes.
Kiva A kiva is a space used by Puebloans for rites and political meetings, many of them associated with the kachina belief system. Among the modern Hopi and most other Pueblo peoples, "kiva" means a large room that is circular and underground, ...
pioneered this concept in 2005, offering the first web-based service to publish individual loan profiles for funding. Kiva raises funds for local intermediary
microfinance Microfinance is a category of financial services targeting individuals and small businesses who lack access to conventional banking and related services. Microfinance includes microcredit, the provision of small loans to poor clients; savings ...
organizations that post stories and updates on behalf of the borrowers. Lenders can contribute as little as $25 to loans of their choice, and receive their money back as borrowers repay. Kiva falls short of being a pure peer-to-peer charity, in that loans are disbursed before being funded by lenders and borrowers do not communicate with lenders themselves.


Security

Internet resources, hardware, and software components are the target of criminal or malicious attempts to gain unauthorized control to cause interruptions, commit fraud, engage in blackmail or access private information.


Malware

Malware Malware (a portmanteau for ''malicious software'') is any software intentionally designed to cause disruption to a computer, server (computing), server, Client (computing), client, or computer network, leak private information, gain unauthorized ...
is malicious software used and distributed via the Internet. It includes
computer virus A computer virus is a type of computer program that, when executed, replicates itself by modifying other computer programs and Code injection, inserting its own Computer language, code. If this replication succeeds, the affected areas are then s ...
es which are copied with the help of humans,
computer worm A computer worm is a standalone malware computer program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. It often uses a computer network to spread itself, relying on security failures on the target computer to access it. It wil ...
s which copy themselves automatically, software for
denial of service attack In computing, a denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended user (computing), users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting network ...
s,
ransomware Ransomware is a type of malware Malware (a portmanteau for ''malicious software'') is any software intentionally designed to cause disruption to a computer, server (computing), server, Client (computing), client, or computer network, leak pri ...
,
botnet A botnet is a group of Internet-connected devices, each of which runs one or more Internet bot, bots. Botnets can be used to perform distributed denial-of-service attack, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, steal data, send Spamming, s ...
s, and
spyware Spyware (a portmanteau A portmanteau word, or portmanteau (, ) is a Blend word, blend of wordscybercrime A cybercrime is a crime that involves a computer or a computer network.Moore, R. (2005) "Cyber crime: Investigating High-Technology Computer Crime," Cleveland, Mississippi: Anderson Publishing. The computer may have been used in committing the ...
. Defense theorists have also speculated about the possibilities of hackers using
cyber warfare Cyberwarfare is the use of cyber attacks against an enemy state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The ...
using similar methods on a large scale.


Surveillance

The vast majority of computer surveillance involves the monitoring of
data In the pursuit of knowledge, data (; ) is a collection of discrete values that convey information, describing quantity, quality, fact, statistics, other basic units of meaning, or simply sequences of symbols that may be further interp ...
and
traffic Traffic comprises pedestrians, vehicles, ridden or herded animals, trains, and other Public conveyance, conveyances that use public ways (roads) for travel and transportation. Traffic laws govern and regulate traffic, while rules of the roa ...
on the Internet. In the United States for example, under the
Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), also known as the "Digital Telephony Act," is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a cou ...
, all phone calls and broadband Internet traffic (emails, web traffic, instant messaging, etc.) are required to be available for unimpeded real-time monitoring by Federal law enforcement agencies.
Packet capture A packet analyzer, also known as packet sniffer, protocol analyzer, or network analyzer, is a computer program A computer program is a sequence or set of instructions in a programming language for a computer to Execution (computing), execut ...
is the monitoring of data traffic on a
computer network A computer network is a set of computers sharing resources located on or provided by Node (networking), network nodes. The computers use common communication protocols over digital signal, digital interconnections to communicate with each ot ...
. Computers communicate over the Internet by breaking up messages (emails, images, videos, web pages, files, etc.) into small chunks called "packets", which are routed through a network of computers, until they reach their destination, where they are assembled back into a complete "message" again. Packet Capture Appliance intercepts these packets as they are traveling through the network, in order to examine their contents using other programs. A packet capture is an information ''gathering'' tool, but not an ''analysis'' tool. That is it gathers "messages" but it does not analyze them and figure out what they mean. Other programs are needed to perform
traffic analysis Traffic analysis is the process of intercepting and examining messages in order to deduce information from patterns in communication, it can be performed even when the messages are encrypted. In general, the greater the number of messages observed ...
and sift through intercepted data looking for important/useful information. Under the
Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), also known as the "Digital Telephony Act," is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a cou ...
all U.S. telecommunications providers are required to install packet sniffing technology to allow Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to intercept all of their customers'
broadband Internet In telecommunications, broadband is wide bandwidth (signal processing), bandwidth data transmission which transports multiple signals at a wide range of frequencies and Internet traffic types, that enables messages to be sent simultaneously, used ...
and VoIP traffic. The large amount of data gathered from packet capturing requires surveillance software that filters and reports relevant information, such as the use of certain words or phrases, the access of certain types of web sites, or communicating via email or chat with certain parties. Agencies, such as the
Information Awareness Office The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying surveillance and information technology ...
,
NSA The National Security Agency (NSA) is a national-level intelligence agency of the United States Department of Defense, under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collectio ...
,
GCHQ Government Communications Headquarters, commonly known as GCHQ, is an intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning Learning is the process ...
and the
FBI The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice ...
, spend billions of dollars per year to develop, purchase, implement, and operate systems for interception and analysis of data. Similar systems are operated by Iranian secret police to identify and suppress dissidents. The required hardware and software was allegedly installed by German
Siemens AG Siemens AG ( ) is a German multinational conglomerate corporation and the largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe headquartered in Munich Munich ( ; german: München ; bar, Minga ) is the capital and most populous city ...
and Finnish
Nokia Nokia Corporation (natively Nokia Oyj, referred to as Nokia) is a Finnish multinational corporation, multinational telecommunications industry, telecommunications, technology company, information technology, and consumer electronics corporatio ...
.


Censorship

Some governments, such as those of
Burma Myanmar, ; UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John Wells explai ...
,
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
,
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in East Asia. It constitutes the northern half of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and shares borders with China and Russia to the north, at the Yalu River, Y ...
,
Mainland China "Mainland China" is a geopolitical term defined as the territory governed by the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dep ...
,
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
and the
United Arab Emirates The United Arab Emirates (UAE; ar, اَلْإِمَارَات الْعَرَبِيَة الْمُتَحِدَة ), or simply the Emirates ( ar, الِْإمَارَات ), is a country in Western Asia (Middle East, The Middle East). It is ...
, restrict access to content on the Internet within their territories, especially to political and religious content, with domain name and keyword filters. In Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, major Internet service providers have voluntarily agreed to restrict access to sites listed by authorities. While this list of forbidden resources is supposed to contain only known child pornography sites, the content of the list is secret. Many countries, including the United States, have enacted laws against the possession or distribution of certain material, such as
child pornography Child pornography (also called CP, child sexual abuse material, CSAM, child porn, or kiddie porn) is pornography that unlawfully exploits children for sexual stimulation. It may be produced with the direct involvement or sexual assault of a chi ...
, via the Internet, but do not mandate filter software. Many free or commercially available software programs, called
content-control software An Internet filter is software Software is a set of computer programs and associated software documentation, documentation and data (computing), data. This is in contrast to Computer hardware, hardware, from which the system is built and whi ...
are available to users to block offensive websites on individual computers or networks, in order to limit access by children to pornographic material or depiction of violence.


Performance

As the Internet is a heterogeneous network, the physical characteristics, including for example the data transfer rates of connections, vary widely. It exhibits
emergent phenomena In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence occurs when an entity is observed to have properties its parts do not have on their own, properties or behaviors that emerge only when the parts interact in a wider whole. Emergence ...
that depend on its large-scale organization.


Traffic volume

The volume of
Internet traffic Internet traffic is the flow of data within the entire Internet, or in certain network links of its constituent networks. Common traffic measurements are total volume, in units of multiples of the byte, or as transmission rates in bytes per cert ...
is difficult to measure, because no single point of measurement exists in the multi-tiered, non-hierarchical topology. Traffic data may be estimated from the aggregate volume through the peering points of the Tier 1 network providers, but traffic that stays local in large provider networks may not be accounted for.


Outages

An Internet blackout or outage can be caused by local signalling interruptions. Disruptions of
submarine communications cable A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the seabed, sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea. The first submarine communications cables laid beginning in the 1850s car ...
s may cause blackouts or slowdowns to large areas, such as in the 2008 submarine cable disruption. Less-developed countries are more vulnerable due to a small number of high-capacity links. Land cables are also vulnerable, as in 2011 when a woman digging for scrap metal severed most connectivity for the nation of Armenia. Internet blackouts affecting almost entire countries can be achieved by governments as a form of
Internet censorship Internet censorship is the legal control or suppression of what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protoco ...
, as in the blockage of the Internet in Egypt, whereby approximately 93% of networks were without access in 2011 in an attempt to stop mobilization for anti-government protests.


Energy use

Estimates of the Internet's electricity usage have been the subject of controversy, according to a 2014 peer-reviewed research paper that found claims differing by a factor of 20,000 published in the literature during the preceding decade, ranging from 0.0064
kilowatt hour A kilowatt-hour ( unit symbol: kW⋅h or kW h; commonly written as kWh) is a unit of energy In physics, energy (from Ancient Greek: wikt:ἐνέργεια#Ancient_Greek, ἐνέργεια, ''enérgeia'', “activity”) is the phys ...
s per gigabyte transferred (kWh/GB) to 136 kWh/GB. The researchers attributed these discrepancies mainly to the year of reference (i.e. whether efficiency gains over time had been taken into account) and to whether "end devices such as
personal computer A personal computer (PC) is a multi-purpose microcomputer whose size, capabilities, and price make it feasible for individual use. Personal computers are intended to be operated directly by an end user, rather than by a computer expert or techn ...
s and servers are included" in the analysis. In 2011, academic researchers estimated the overall
energy use Energy consumption is the amount of energy used. Biology In the body, energy consumption is part of energy homeostasis. It derived from food energy. Energy consumption in the body is a product of the basal metabolic rate and the physical activity ...
d by the Internet to be between 170 and 307 GW, less than two percent of the energy used by humanity. This estimate included the energy needed to build, operate, and periodically replace the estimated 750 million
laptop A laptop, laptop computer, or notebook computer is a small, portable personal computer (PC) with a screen and alphanumeric keyboard. Laptops typically have a Flip (form), clam shell Form factor (design), form factor with the computer scr ...
s, a billion
smart phone A smartphone is a Mobile device, portable computer device that combines Mobile phone, mobile telephone and Mobile computing, computing functions into one unit. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities ...
s and 100 million servers worldwide as well as the energy that routers,
cell tower A cell site, cell tower, or cellular base station is a cellular-enabled mobile device site where antennas and electronic communications equipment are placed (typically on a radio mast, tower, or other raised structure) to create a cell, or ad ...
s,
optical switch An optical transistor, also known as an optical switch or a light valve, is a device that switches or amplifies signal#Analog and digital signals, optical signals. Light occurring on an optical transistor's input changes the intensity of light emitt ...
es,
Wi-Fi Wi-Fi () is a family of wireless network Communication protocol, protocols, based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards, which are commonly used for Wireless LAN, local area networking of devices and Internet access, allowing nearby digital d ...
transmitters and
cloud storage Cloud storage is a model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical Pool (computer science), pools, said to be on "the cloud". The storage virtualization, physical storage spans multiple Server (computing), servers (so ...
devices use when transmitting
Internet traffic Internet traffic is the flow of data within the entire Internet, or in certain network links of its constituent networks. Common traffic measurements are total volume, in units of multiples of the byte, or as transmission rates in bytes per cert ...
. According to a non-peer reviewed study published in 2018 by The Shift Project (a French think tank funded by corporate sponsors), nearly 4% of global CO2 emissions could be attributed to global
data transfer Data transmission and data reception or, more broadly, data communication or digital communications is the transfer and reception of data In the pursuit of knowledge, data (; ) is a collection of discrete values that convey informati ...
and the necessary infrastructure. The study also said that online video streaming alone accounted for 60% of this data transfer and therefore contributed to over 300 million tons of CO2 emission per year, and argued for new "digital sobriety" regulations restricting the use and size of video files.


See also

*
Crowdfunding Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and Alternative Finance, alternative finance. In 2015, over was rais ...
*
Crowdsourcing Crowdsourcing involves a large group of dispersed participants contributing or producing goods and services, goods or services—including ideas, Voting, votes, Microwork, micro-tasks, and finances—for payment or as volunteers. Contemporary ...
*
Darknet A dark net or darknet is an overlay network An overlay network is a computer network that is protocol layering, layered on top of another network. Structure Node (networking), Nodes in the overlay network can be thought of as being connected ...
* Deep web *
Freenet Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant, Anonymity application, anonymous communication. It uses a decentralized distributed data store to keep and deliver information, and has a suite of free software for publishing and co ...
* Internet industry jargon * Index of Internet-related articles * Internet metaphors *
Internet video Internet video (online video / cloud-based video) is the general field that deals with the transmission of digital video Digital video is an electronic representation of moving visual images (video) in the form of encoded digital data. This ...
* " Internets" *
Open Systems Interconnection The Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI model) is a conceptual model A conceptual model is a representation of a system. It consists of concepts used to help people knowledge, know, understanding, understand, or simulation, simulate a sub ...
* Outline of the Internet


Notes


References


Sources

*


Further reading


''First Monday''
a peer-reviewed journal on the Internet by the University Library of the
University of Illinois at Chicago The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) is a Public university, public research university in Chicago, Illinois. Its campus is in the Near West Side, Chicago, Near West Side community area, adjacent to the Chicago Loop. The second campus esta ...
,
''The Internet Explained''
Vincent Zegna & Mike Pepper, Sonet Digital, November 2005, pp. 1–7. * *


External links


The Internet Society

Living Internet
Internet history and related information, including information from many creators of the Internet {{Authority control 1969 establishments in the United States American inventions Computer-related introductions in 1969 Computer-related introductions in 1989 Cultural globalization Digital technology Mass media technology Telecommunications New media Promotion and marketing communications Public services Telegraphy Transport systems Virtual reality Main topic articles