The nature of the Internet's current evolution is an important determinant of contemporary and future directions of social change. It is no longer simply a technical platform about which technical experts are best placed to take important decisions. Who should then shape the evolution of the Internet, and how? A common response is that the Internet is a dynamic platform that responds to user needs. Users determining the Internet's trajectory is largely a myth, though some remarkable oases of alternative practices amongst committed techies, and some non-techie 'power users', do exist. To the extent the user has a role, it is in her capacity as a consumer, which capacity is very unequally distributed between affluent and marginalised groups. Largely, it is corporatist and statist powers that are shaping the Internet. In authoritarian countries, state power is the central driver; but in a majority of countries, it is global corporate power, supported by globally-powerful governments, that determines the directions that the Internet is taking.
It is important to confront both, (1) global corporatist stranglehold over the Internet, which is sabotaging most of its egalitarian potential, and (2) statist efforts to discipline and control the citizenry. We believe that ordinary people and communities must have greater control in shaping the Internet as a key determinant of our future social structures. Towards this end, we advocate national and global norms and policies that recognise, and underpin, the Internet as primarily a force for equality and social justice, and undertaking research in support of our advocacies for a people-centric Internet.