Internet Fragmentation

Technical, political, and commercial trends to Cyberspace disintegration are thematized by the WEF. It’s unmistakably an important topic. The report explains:

The purpose of this document is to contribute to the emergence of a common baseline understanding of Internet fragmentation. It maps the landscape of some of the key trends and practices that have been variously described as constituting Internet fragmentation and highlights 28 examples. A distinction is made between cases of technical, governmental and commercial fragmentation. The technical cases generally can be said to involve fragmentation “of” the Internet, or its underlying physical and logical infrastructures. The governmental and commercial cases often more directly involve fragmentation “on” the Internet, or the transactions and cyberspace it conveys, although they also can involve the infrastructure as well. With the examples cited placed in these three conjoined baskets, we can get a holistic overview of their nature and scope and more readily engage in the sort of dialogue and cooperation that is needed.

By addressing a constituency involved in the Internet’s “distributed collective management” it preserves (at least superficial) ideological neutrality.

Twelve “kinds of fragmentation” are enumerated:

1. Network Address Translation
2. IPv4 and IPv6 incompatibility and the dual-stack requirement
3. Routing corruption
4. Firewall protections
5. Virtual private network isolation and blocking
6. TOR “onion space” and the “dark web”
7. Internationalized Domain Name technical errors
8. Blocking of new gTLDs
9. Private name servers and the split-horizon DNS
10. Segmented Wi-Fi services in hotels, restaurants, etc.
11. Possibility of significant alternate DNS roots
12. Certificate authorities producing false certificates

The Internet has been implicitly conceived as the new Oecumene since its emergence. The globalist ideal has been almost wholly subsumed into it. Yet tidal trends — “technical, governmental and commercial” — are testing the assumptions underlying that conception, and converting them into objects of explicit attention. If the secularized Universal now finds its most compelling incarnation in the Idea of the Internet, the WEA report is bound to anticipate a wide swathe of 21st century discussions.

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