Fillet burst? Is the Internet fragmenting along geopolitical lines?

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Concerns are expressed that the Internet is no longer open to everyone and has fractured along geopolitical lines or to respond to national interests.

In 2020, network watchers witnessed internet blackouts and shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir, and more recently unrest in Ethiopia.

As opposition protests continue in Belarus, citizens have frequently seen their access to internet connectivity and cellular service cut off.

In January, Wikipedia was reinstated in Turkey after a ban of more than two years.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s US administration has banned Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat, while offering a range of online controls.

These are all examples of how authorities and policy makers have sought to make the Internet a less resilient and open network – something organizations have called the “splinternet”.

“An open Internet is an Internet where anyone can create, use or deploy Internet technologies according to their own wishes,” said Konstantinos Komaitis, senior director of strategy and policy development at the Internet Society.

“If you think of regulatory attempts to prevent communications – essentially Internet censorship – this could be seen as an attack on openness.

“There is a wider and disturbing trend where governments interfere directly with the Internet, trying to score political points in the short term, regardless of the long term damage this can cause.”

The non-profit association launched its “Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit“to enable policymakers and ordinary users to” protect the foundations that underpin the Internet “.

The guide sets out the basic principles that the Internet Society wants governments to adhere to to facilitate “the free and efficient flow of knowledge, ideas and information” online.

“We believe this toolkit is part of a much larger conversation about understanding and protecting the Internet,” Komaitis told Euronews.

The Internet Society has called for the Internet to be viewed and protected in the same way that policymakers consider health and environmental concerns.

Watch Seana Davis’ interview with Konstantinos Komaitis in the #TheCube above.


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