Fillet of shards? Does the Internet fracture along geopolitical lines?

Concerns are being raised the internet is no longer open to all and has fractured along geopolitical lines or to suit national interests.

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

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

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

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

All of these examples illustrate how authorities and policy makers have sought to make the internet a less resilient and open network – what organizations have dubbed the “splinternet”.

“An open Internet is an Internet where everyone can create, use or deploy Internet technologies according to their own wishes,” said Konstantinos Komaitis, Senior Director of Policy Strategy and Development at the Internet Society.

“If you think about regulatory attempts to prevent communications – essentially internet censorship – that could be seen as an attack on transparency.

“There is a broader and disturbing trend where governments are directly interfering with the internet, trying to score short-term political points, without considering the long-term damage it can cause.”

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

The guide sets out fundamental principles that the Internet Society expects governments to follow in order to facilitate “the free and effective 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 considered and protected in the same way that policy makers consider health and environmental concerns.

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

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