The internet was invented as an experimental technology to connect a handful of researchers, but today it pervades almost all aspects of our lives. It is a source of information and entertainment, a vehicle for commerce and philanthropy, and an important globalising force. Only 6 per cent of the world’s population was online in 2000. This increased to 30 per cent in 2010. With the adoption of IPv6, which has increased the number of possible internet addresses by a magnitude, the number of networked devices is expected to touch 15 billion by 2016, twice the world population. The amount of information is increasing exponentially; it doubled between 2010 and 2011, and doubled yet again the next year. Global monthly information flows are expected to exceed 10 exabytes (1 followed by 19 zeroes) by 2016.
In India, there are over 930 million mobile subscribers and 120 million Indians access the internet. Although this is only 10 per cent of our population, it is enough to make India the third largest internet community in the world. Most new users are accessing the internet through mobile devices. Although smartphones are only 2.5 per cent of India’s mobile market at present, the segment is expected to grow by around 55 per cent annually between 2011 and 2016. The Rs 20,000 crore government funded National Optical Fibre Network will take gigabit capacity bandwidth right up to the panchayat level. Our ongoing and planned e-learning, telemedicine, e-governance and financial inclusion initiatives will ride on this network to boost our growth across sectors and enable closer government-citizen interface.
The government believes in absolute freedom of the internet and acknowledges its potential to realise our constitutionally enshrined commitments to social justice, equitable growth and freedoms available to our citizens. Like all widely available communication technologies, the internet is a democratising force in our society, just like print and electronic media. Our massive investments in IT are proof of these beliefs and of our endeavour to deliver connectivity to each one of our citizens.
This powerful global phenomenon is connecting not only individuals, but also financial, commercial and other critical institutions across the planet. It has graduated to a strategic resource. Unprecedented amounts of personal information — from personal data, financial information, surfing and online spending behaviour, location-based information — resides in remote servers. Our dependence on the internet and connected technologies for our simple and complex needs necessitates us to deliberate