The internet has gone through a complete evolution. What once seemed to be a unifying force, designed to bring the world closer, is now evolving into a potentially disparate network – controlled by competing interests and opposing perspectives.

The advent of the internet brought hope for shared knowledge, commerce and opportunity across every geography. 

Instead, the three largest global economies – the US, China and the EU – have starkly different views of what the Internet is intended for and how it should operate.

The Three-Way Web: What It Is and How We Got Here

Three Opposing Views

The EU claims that the internet should be a more tightly regulated format, with higher taxes and regulation like GDPR. To instill this type of regulation, the European Parliament passed significant changes to the EU’s copyright rules.

This installment stirred a great deal of concern from web users across the EU, because it would entail even more online censorship – creating a highly restricted online experience. Google agrees, saying that the new law will “hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies.” 

The EU places an inordinate amount of regulation on the web, and China isn’t far off this path…

In China, there’s been a rise in closed networks that are controlled by the government, which are massive in scale as a result from the country’s huge population. 

With these closed networks, users in China are blocked from accessing many of the apps and websites that are used around the world. This means they have to rely on a virtual private network (VPN) to open sites, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Twitter – making for a convoluted process to find information.

What’s more is China requires web users to verify their ID before entering an app – meaning they have to take a selfie with their passport to simply open an application. This means the government has a strong censorship on users, with no room for users to explore and browse freely without constant surveillance.

On the other hand, the US sees the internet in a much different light than the EU and China. The US envisions a light touch commerce and content reality, with periodic cries for regulation that are offset by citations for the First Amendment. 

While there are rules and regulations to abide by, and compliance restrictions to follow, the web in the US has turned into a hub of information that fuels content and empowers users. It’s an invaluable resource that allows companies to promote their brand and gives consumers a leg up on finding information that eases their decision making. While it’s regulated, it’s a feasible and somewhat simple process to search for information online.

With opposing views, and differing formats, these three countries play a dominant role in shaping the web for the future. 

In all likelihood, a three-way model will dominate the 21st century. But all of this brings a level of uncertainty for an internet-driven era. What does this mean for developers, retailers, thought leaders, and citizens? 

How We Can Help

Here at Boston Digital, we are equipped to guide you through the uncertainty.

The Three-Way Web: What It Is and How We Got Here

As designers of websites and technologies for twenty years, Boston Digital has a unique set of views on the future of the three-way world, including how to adapt to cross border commerce and information sharing. This is critical at a time when consumers have come to expect fast-paced, personalized shopping experiences and instant connection.  

We would love to share our views and recommendations for managing Internet strategy in the context of these dynamics, even as the inevitability of globalization means more adaptability as opposed to more rigidity.

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