The Internet Economy on the Rise: Progress since the Seoul Declaration


Read the book online | 2008 Seoul Ministerial | 2011 high-level meeting 2016 Cancún Ministerial | 2017-2019: OECD Going Digital project


The Internet Economy on the Rise: Progress since the Seoul Declaration

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September 2013


This publication reviews progress made since the 2008 OECD Seoul Declaration for the Future of the Internet Economy and identifies areas for future work. Seven themes are addressed:


  • High-speed infrastructure;
  • Digital content and green ICTs;
  • The development of smarter applications;
  • Cybersecurity and privacy;
  • Consumer empowerment and protection;
  • An open Internet economy; and
  • Global participation for development.


Overall, the review shows that the Internet economy has become a new source of growth, with the potential to boost the whole economy, to foster innovation, competitiveness and user participation, and to contribute effectively to the prosperity of society as a whole.


1998-2007: A borderless world and beyond

Between 1996 and 2005, with preparation and follow-up to the 1998 Ottawa Ministerial Conference on electronic commerce, OECD work on ICT policy primarily focused on creating the framework conditions to ensure the development of the ICT sector, e-commerce and Internet infrastructure. From 2006, with the preparation of the Seoul Ministerial on the Future of the Internet Economy held in 2008, much of the OECD work aimed to:

  • build the evidence case that the Internet was becoming a platform for productivity, innovation, as well as for social and economic growth; and
  • elaborate a policy framework providing the necessary building blocks for the Internet economy to continue to develop.

2008: The Seoul Ministerial on the Future of the Internet Economy

The Seoul Ministerial marked a turning point with regard to Internet policy. It considered the social, economic and technological trends shaping the development of the Internet and envisioned its potential to evolve from a useful platform to an essential infrastructure for all economic and social actors, thereby for the basic functioning of the economy and society (“Internet economy”). 

Seoul Ministerial on the Future of the Internet Economy

The overall objectives of the Seoul Ministerial were to provide an enabling policy environment for the Internet economy by facilitating the convergence of digital networks, devices, applications and services, by fostering creativity in the development, use and application of the internet, and by strengthening confidence and security.

This meeting also served to raise awareness at the highest levels of government that the Internet has become a core economic and social infrastructure. This attention ultimately led to discussions about areas where governments can play a facilitating role via policy making.

Following Seoul, the OECD deepened its work in the main policy areas identified during the meeting. These include important areas such as broadband deploymentsecurity and privacyconsumer protection, and digital content.

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2011: High Level Meeting on the Internet Economy: 
Generating Innovation and Growth

Economic difficulties persisted through 2011 for most OECD countries and the Internet was increasingly viewed as an economic engine that could be leveraged to help countries return to growth. As with all economic platforms, governments wanted to ensure that conditions supported the maximum amount of social benefit and economic gain.

With this in mind, the OECD organised a high-level meeting in Paris in June 2011, building upon the Seoul Ministerial and drawing together leaders from all stakeholder communities. The meeting aimed to continue fostering the development of the Internet economy and to reach a consensus on adopting shared principles for an open Internet economy that would support the Internet’s role as a platform for the entire economy. In particular, the meeting served as a forum to exchange best practices in the areas of supply, demand, measurement, and principles for an open Internet.

One of the highest-profile items emerging from the meeting was the 
OECD Council Recommendation on Principles for Internet Policy Making. This recommendation includes 14 key principles including the promotion of the open, distributed and interconnected nature of the Internet, and the need to encourage multi-stakeholder co-operation in policy development processes.

2016: Cancún Ministerial on the Digital Economy: Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity

The digital economy now permeates the world economy. Information is flowing within and across borders with unprecedented pace and volume with significant impact on innovation, trade, global value chains and society as a whole. Few aspects of our lives remain untouched by digitalisation.

Meeting these challenges requires collaboration amongst all stakeholders – citizens, firms and governments – to develop new, economy-wide approaches to digital economy policy development. On 21-23 June 2016,  Ministers gathered in Cancún, Mexico, for the OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy to continue the dialogue and  move the digital agenda forward in four key policy areas foundational to the growth of the digital economy: Internet openness is high on policy agendas; digital trust needs to be strengthened; global connectivity is reaching an unprecedented scale, while jobs and skills are being radically transformed.

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