Concerns about Internet fragmentation have been at the heart of Internet governance discussions for the past two decades. The global, unified nature of the Internet is essential to realizing its full value and significance for humanity. It is also not something that we can take for granted. With increasing geopolitical, regulatory and commercial pressures coming to bear on the unity and coordination necessary for an unfragmented Internet, it is vital to discuss and develop strategies to avoid and prevent this fragmentation.
Reflecting the UN Secretary-General’s recognition of avoiding fragmentation as one of the global digital cooperation priorities and its inclusion as one of the key themes of the planned Global Digital Compact, this session will explore the risks currently posed, while highlighting the positive structures, forces and agreements that have helped to minimize fragmentation to date. As some stakeholders question the need or viability of maintaining an unfragmented Internet, this session provides an important opportunity to reaffirm the WSIS Declaration of Principles and renew the IGF community’s commitment to ensuring a global, unified Internet, available to all.
In the content layer, we often observe segregation and/or positive discrimination of different sources of information that brings imbalance and inequality to the digital environment. Obviously, such distinction may be politically or economically motivated, and any law-abiding actor could suffer from it. How could this problem be tackled? Do we need common rules to avoid or at least to reduce any information manipulations on the Internet?
- Amandeep Gill - UN Tech Envoy
- Tatiana Tropina - University of Leiden*
- Edmon Chung - ICANN Board
- Sheetal Kumar - Global Partners Digital
- Raul Echeberria - ALAI
- Emilar Gandhi - Meta
- Introduction: Setting the scene, housekeeping and interaction rules
- Video about Fragmentation from the Youth Perspective
- Debate with Panelists
- Audience Interaction
- Closing remarks
- Avoiding fragmentation of the Internet is one of the complex digital issues the UN Secretary-General recommends addressing in the Global Digital Compact. Would it be possible to explain how this should be seen as a risk or a focus in upcoming UN negotiations?
- What are the current status and existing risks of fragmentation in the layers of the Internet: technical, access, content? Has the discussion of fragmentation progressed significantly in recent years/months, how so?
- How is Internet Fragmentation a concern for the DNS or Operators community ? Does that concern align with what we hear from the UN?
- What are concrete examples where technical, commercial or policy measures lead to fragmentation of the Internet?
- Do you consider that different users' experience such as language, quality of access to the Internet or cultural preferences can be a form of Internet fragmentation? Could avoiding Internet fragmentation adversely affect diversity of the Web? The PNIF identified governance/coordination fragmentation as a risk - can you explain that aspect in more depth?
- Instruments like the Tunis Agenda and the NetMundial Principles make the case for the Internet as an unified and unfragmented space. What has changed since these agreements, and were they acted upon? If we agree that Internet Fragmentation is a common issue that needs to be addressed do you believe that we already have the instruments for avoiding it?
- If we are talking about avoiding Internet Fragmentation, what kind of response is needed from policymakers and other stakeholders? Who should be doing what?