- Briefly mention about Web phases 1 & 2.
- Describe the emerging Web 3 technology space.
- Mention India’s opportunities in Web 3 policy development as well as existing concerns.
The rise of the internet & digital business globally were largely captured by the companies from developed nations. So the genesis of Web 1 and Web 2 phases of internet business were largely western-led. When the Indian economy liberalized, the Indian technology companies were primarily offshore service providers to developed economies. India did not have the necessary economic and consumption heft in the initial years to participate in the policy development around internet governance.
Phases of Web : (a) when internet was conceptualized, the Web 1 version had very little opportunity for user interaction, since web pages were static, only readable without possibilities for interactivity and terribly slow. (b) Web 2 allowed for user participation by bringing the idea of social media to the forefront. It powered the users to use content via web applications. It spurred digital commerce as well.
Web 3 – start of a new era: emergence of Web 3 is simply built on the concept of decentralization of how the internet is controlled/influenced, and to redirect equal power to the actual content creators. This is the basis of the blockchain philosophy, whose widespread commercial usage is still on the rise. Though it is slower than other digital methods, it offers higher data integrity, and robustness of process. Incidentally the ideology of cryptocurrencies is one of the prime applications of Web 3. Web 3 is becoming popular amongst the Indian startup space, with investments of over $ 500 million in the past few months. With advancements in areas like AI, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, IoT, etc., the interaction with machines can potentially become human-like. The other not-yet-understood dimension of Web 3 is ‘Metaverse’ – a concept of ‘alternate digital universe’ existing alongside our natural universe. The private technology investors worldwide are pumping large funding for these Web 3 ideas.
This could induce large tech giants like Google, Meta to change their business models. Such emerging technologies have sparked a mix of rightful concerns among the governments as they fear ‘losing political control’, testing state sovereignty through data misuse, privacy issues, false narratives, etc. The complexity of Web 3 can thus make regulating the internet space difficult, which will need out-of-the-box thinking for ensuring rules based Web society.
Opportunities for India: it is precisely the right opportunity for Indian policy makers to make a diverse list of technologies that they desire to adopt in their policy formulations formally. India has donned many path-breaking innovations from e-governance to inclusive low-cost-high-innovation led access to financial markets. It is the opportunity for India to decide if it wants to head the global table in setting the standards & protocols around Web 3. Here lies the need for speedy policy thinking – India is still worried about usages like NFT or crypto tokens. With Metaverse, the concerns revolve around governance structures of these entities and how their IP will be governed. Also the usually adopted End User License Agreement will create concerns on national jurisdiction for enforceability.
A NASSCOM report on Cryptotech has estimated over 8 lakh job creation by the year 2030 in the Indian Web 3 industry. Indian industry analysts worry that lack of regulatory clarity and absence of proactive policy can impair this. Already, Indian Web 3 entrepreneurs have started moving to Dubai & Singapore that offer better regulatory space for scaling ventures. India has the brain power, talent which needs to be complemented by policy capabilities. India can be a significant leader if we shape Web 3 as our strategic economic moat for the 21st century digital economy.