Russia is risking the creation of a “splinternet”—and it could be irreversible

Another form of splintering is to continue to use technically compatible protocols, but it should have different governing bodies operating the services. This can be more difficult to reverse.

If Russia, China, or some other countries form competitors of organizations that manage and install IP addresses and DNS, it may be more difficult to put them back together than competing technological protocols. Inherent interests will be formed, the desire to be with one body or another, the politics of reunification will make it almost impossible.

The problem of reconnecting these discordant networks to a global Internet would be political, not technical પરંતુ but it is often the political problems that are most difficult to solve.

Measures of complete segmentation of the Internet are also rare which can still have a significant impact on disrupting the global flow of information — or the proper functioning of the Internet in a paradigm shift.

Due to the nature of the Internet to create monopolies, some services have a semi-infrastructure type status. Amazon web services, for example, run so much in the back of the Internet that banning them from a specific region is a headache. Similarly, cutting off access to GitHub repositories will paralyze many services, at least temporarily.

Russia is trying to reduce this risk between official and public sites, requiring them to return their data, use .ru domains and reduce the use of foreign service providers. For a while during the week’s panic, some considered this a warning to all Russian websites, leading to alarmist (but so far unreliable) articles suggesting that Russia plans to completely distance itself from the Internet.

Other countries and groups have sought to downplay the global nature of the Internet – and not just autocracy. The EU wants to process all data processed on its citizens within its borders, with US tech giants vehemently opposing the move.

Iran, meanwhile, has forged national connections between its major online organizations, enabling it to operate a kind of Iran-only functional Internet, if it needs to shut itself off from the global network or if it has been kicked out by an adversary.

But it is China that has perhaps the most famous complex relationship with the Internet. While Chinese-born tech companies often thrive in the West – just look at TikTok – almost all of the online services used by people in China are Chinese companies. The country also operates a large and regular form of online censorship, commonly known as the Great Firewall of China.

Charlie Smith * (nicknamed for his work in China and his criticism of censorship policies) Greatfire, which tracks censorship on the Chinese Internet, says its relationship with the global Internet has changed over time.

“First, the service-level barrier was driven by pure censorship requirements. There is a need to keep information about Xi Jinping secret or to cover up any major mishap that could be directly blamed on the government, “he said. “But as those foreign websites were blocked, Chinese entrepreneurs realized that there were gaps in the market that could be filled.

“Not only have they filled the gaps, they have helped create Chinese Internet companies that are as valuable as their Western counterparts, even if these Chinese companies are not well established outside of China.”

Thanks to these long-standing separate organizations, Smith argues that China could manage to cut off from the Internet પરંતુ but that it is largely not in its best interest to do so.

“I think China can disassociate itself from the global Internet and if there was a major local crisis … [but] I believe that China will depend on the global Internet. The Chinese Diaspora is everywhere in the world. No one wants to be disconnected from the house. Businesses will still have to rely on selling their products abroad.

China, on the other hand, holds senior positions on the various governing bodies of the Internet – such as a country with more than one billion Internet users – and is now slowly trying to adapt itself to standards, rules and protocols.

Splinternet is very possible-driven by politics rather than technology પરંતુ but for now, everyone seems eager to try and hold the fragile status quo in their favor, at least not because the Internet seems to be allowed to fracture. , It is possible. Repairing proves impossible.

James Ball is the global editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the author of “The Tangled Web We View: Inside the Shadow System That Shapes the Internet.”

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