Splinternet: Technology Trends – Pharmaceutical Technology

The traditional internet is increasingly under threat from ‘splinternet’, the term used to describe the fragmentation of the internet into competing technospheres. Increasingly, nation states are imposing restrictions, increasing pressure on the internet governance system established decades ago.

Below are the top technology trends impacting the splinternet theme, as identified by GlobalData.

The Great Chinese Firewall

China’s Great Firewall is the starkest example of state-led internet censorship. In the early 1990s, the Chinese government began developing an Internet control system that prevented citizens from connecting to banned foreign websites – from Google, Facebook and Yahoo to the New York Times – and blocked domestic content. politically sensitive, preventing mass organizing online. And China does not want these capabilities to remain solely in China.

A 2021 report from the International Cyber ​​Policy Center (ICPC) suggested that Beijing wants other countries to govern the internet the same way it does. It already exports digital infrastructure to more than 60 countries through its Belt and Road Initiative, and Chinese companies export surveillance products to developing countries in Africa, South America and the United States. ‘Central Asia.

New Internet Protocol (IP)

China is developing technology for a new network with a top-down design aimed at reinventing the internet. Telecom giant Huawei, together with China Unicom and China Telecom, first proposed the idea of ​​a new internet architecture to ITU in 2019, sparking controversy among Western delegations. The proposal describes the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) – the existing suite of communications protocols used to connect network devices on the Internet – as “unstable” and “grossly insufficient” to meet the demands of the digital world of communication. ‘by 2030. .

Critics fear that the new IP will “lead to more centralized, top-down control of the Internet and potentially even its users, with security and human rights implications”, as a 2021 article by Oxford Information Labs.

Artificial intelligence (AI) monitoring

AI has become an area of ​​intense rivalry among governments seeking technical and normative leadership in this area, with little global cooperation. This is particularly undesirable given the ability of AI to enable mass surveillance. A growing number of countries are deploying advanced AI surveillance tools to monitor citizens. A 2019 article from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that at least 176 countries around the world are actively using AI technologies for surveillance purposes. This includes smart city and safe city platforms, facial recognition systems and so-called smart policing.

Surveillance is also at the heart of what Shoshana Zuboff, in The Age of Surveillance, defines as the exploitative nature of surveillance capitalism, that is, the exploitation of user data by Silicon Valley giants to predict and shape behaviors. In short, surveillance is increasingly integrated into the splinternet, both in its undemocratic and democratic versions.

cyber security

Today, ransomware attacks are being carried out on an unprecedented scale against national infrastructures, such as the American pipeline operator Colonial in 2021, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) in 2017, and even the Baltimore city. As the digital space divides into different visions of the Internet, cybersecurity cooperation to prevent cyberattacks becomes more difficult.

The 2021 US-Russian presidential summit highlighted their differing approaches to cybersecurity dialogue. This dialogue has become critical for the United States, as the country is plagued by ransomware attacks, including those originating from Russia, such as the SolarWinds attack or the Kremlin’s general disinformation campaigns. On the other hand, Russia seems more interested in gaining greater sovereignty over its internet than in establishing rules about appropriate cyber behavior.

These divergent approaches were seen at the first United Nations (UN) global meeting on cyber standards in 2019. While the Russian-sponsored open-ended working group focused on finding consensus regarding cyberspace sovereignty and non-interference in the political affairs of states, the US-backed government panel emphasized creating an open and free environment in cyberspace.


Blockchain has great potential for businesses, but the lack of uniform technical standards has hampered its development. With an offer of ultra-cheap server space, Beijing is trying to fill this void by promoting its blockchain-based service network (BSN) and pitching it to developers around the world as capable of providing the infrastructure. number required. According to the Wall Street Journal, BSN had 20,000 users and thousands of blockchain-related projects in 2021.

The BSN project aligns with Beijing’s other efforts to influence next-generation technologies and gain global leverage. There is so far no centralized state-level blockchain alternative to China’s, and Beijing can decide who gets to use the technology first, potentially acting as a gatekeeper.


Cryptocurrencies have been swept into the arena of techno-nationalism, accelerated by the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). China is a good example. The country actively supports the development of global CBDC standards. Beijing was one of the biggest cryptocurrency markets until 2021, when the People’s Bank of China declared all virtual currency-related business activities illegal because they endanger the safety of people’s assets.

While cracking down on private cryptocurrencies, Beijing began designing the digital renminbi (or e-CNY), a state-sponsored digital currency. Geopolitics and the ongoing war in Ukraine are likely to accelerate China’s efforts – and those of other countries like Russia – to build a shadow banking system and commercial currency based on CBDCs to replace payment systems. currently regulated by the United States.


The splinternet and Web3 – an idea for a new iteration of the internet – have conflicting interests. Although both seek to reengineer the current version of the Internet, the differing power dynamics between big tech companies, governments, and end users will ultimately pit these two visions of the Internet against each other. Web3 aims to decentralize networks but empower end users.

The development of decentralization technologies has been a driving force for Web3. In particular, blockchain-based technologies such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized finance (DeFi), and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have contributed to the growing popularity of Web3 in recent years. However, many of them remain emerging technologies. As a result, the innovation of decentralization technologies will need to keep pace with top-down movements to restore Web2 power dynamics.

This is an edited excerpt from Splinternet – Thematic search report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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