The traditional Internet is increasingly under threat from the “Splinternet”, which is a term used to describe the fragmentation of the Internet into competing technospheres.
Nation-states are imposing restrictions, increasing the pressure on the Internet governance system that was established decades ago, says analytics firm GlobalData.
GlobalData’s latest thematic report ‘Splinternet – Thematic Research’, states that liberal democracies are divided over safeguarding the global, open Internet, prioritising digital sovereignty but, on the other hand the centralised model followed by autocratic regimes challenges the open Internet by reshaping global norms and standards.
Laura Petrone, principal analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Competing visions risk hindering the development of international governance across various digital segments, from cyberspace to Internet infrastructure, to emerging technologies. This leaves severe regulatory gaps and increases security threats, at a time when mechanisms to ensure data security, tackle cybercrime, and develop common ethical standards are especially needed.”
Increasing competition between the US and China is driving global fragmentation as both countries are focused on reducing supply chain vulnerabilities and boosting their competitiveness in critical technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G.
Petrone continues: “Fragmentation negatively impacts both autocracies and democracies. Digital fences across countries, erected with sanctions or bans on technologies, risk creating barriers for companies with global operations. For example, countries imposing bans on apps or sanctions on the trade of specific technologies. These kind of interventions both disrupt the global trade and global supply chains and ultimately damage companies with global operations. Divergent regulation and compliance requirements create entry barriers for businesses, with costs of compliance being especially onerous for smaller companies and start-ups. The divide between techno-spheres adds to economic uncertainty and increases the threat to cybersecurity and supply chains.”