IGF 2022 WS #335 FR: Fragmented Reality. New Horizons of Digital Distrust

Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 (06:00 UTC) - Tuesday, 29th November, 2022 (07:00 UTC)
Banquet Hall A

Organizer 2: Roman Chukov, Center for Global IT-Cooperation
Organizer 3: David Otujor Okpatuma, Friends for Leadership

Speaker 1: Jovan Kurbalija, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: GONAYA MONEI SETHORA , Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 3: Amrita Choudhury, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Adugna Haile Wako , Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 5: Milos Jovanovic, Private Sector, Eastern European Group


Roberto Zambrana, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

David Otujor Okpatuma, Intergovernmental Organization, African Group


Roman Chukov, Civil Society, Eastern European Group


Round Table - Circle - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

The definition of Internet fragmentation and its risks: What threats do the technical, legislative and policy developments being made in recent years pose to interconnected and interoperable Internet? Are the purposes of fragmentation and the steps being made towards it by different players reasonable? What are the driving forces behind the fragmentation, and what are the critical issues that need to be addressed in order to overcome the possible consequences? A way to open, interconnected and interoperable Internet: How to predict possible causes of fragmentation and its potential effects? How to raise the awareness that technical, legal and regulatory measures could pose a risk to the open and interoperable Internet? Where the spread of instant content blocking and content filtering could lead the world?

Connection with previous Messages: Internet fragmentation was partly addressed in various IGF 2021 sessions by discussing connectivity, data localization, trust, core values (openness, transparency, etc.) and especially regulation, which has been one of the main issue areas of IGF 2021: “Emerging regulation: market structure, content, data and consumer rights and protection”. Interoperability is a key to everything on the Internet. In this regard we need to use the results of previous discussions to continue the analysis and further research and case studies to come to a systematic approach.


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities

Targets: 5.5, 9.c, 10.2, 16.7, 16.10, 17.6, 17.17 A fruitful discussion on Internet fragmentation must be ensured through equal representation and full participation of various stakeholders at all levels (16.7, 5.5). The diversity must be ensured by different aspects, promoting the participation age, gender, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or other status groups (10.2). Effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships is essential to discuss such an important tendency in Internet development as we see today (17.17). The great importance of the Internet in economic, social and cultural processes both at the level of states and corporations and at the level of individual citizens indicates the need for free access to the Internet and information (16.10), as well as to communications technology in any part of the world, including least developed countries (9.c), through improved coordination among existing mechanisms, in particular at the United Nations level (17.6).


Internet fragmentation is becoming an important issue, which can deteriorate the functioning of the Web and slow down technological progress. Such fragmentation would devalue the core principles of the Internet and could transform it from an open communications platform into an excessively regulated media space that serves corporate or national interests. "Avoiding Internet fragmentation" is one of the key points of a Global Digital Compact in the UN Secretary-General's Our Common Agenda report, which only proves the relevance and importance of the topic. Now, when effective functioning and even existence of a state’s critical infrastructure (energy systems, banking, transport, etc.) as well as people’s day-to-day work and communication highly depends on the operation of the Internet, it is obvious that different stakeholders strive to keep it safe and protected. At the same time, we need to remember that one of the main principles of the Internet is openness and interoperability, and efforts must be made to preserve it and let the Internet develop safely. ​​Internet fragmentation is possible not only on a national or regional basis, but also on a corporate basis, since a huge number of DNS requests are processed not by local communication providers, but centrally by several corporations. The degree of influence achieved by technology companies allows them to compete with national and foreign governments, setting their own rules. A discussion on the chosen topic would allow to hear the opinions of all speakers who represent different stakeholder groups, discuss how to allow the Internet to develop, while remaining open, free and interoperable. How fast could the Internet fragmentation develop in the current realities of global distrust? And where could the practices of blocking, formation of separate ecosystems lead the world?

Expected Outcomes

The workshop aims to raise the awareness of the community to the growing Internet fragmentation. Different stakeholders should find the ways to let the Internet develop with global and cooperative efforts, indicating the aspects of fragmentation in different displays and looking for the solutions. One of the possible outcomes of the workshop could be a report dedicated to this important issue providing the results of the discussion considering the examples of fragmentation globally, analyzing case studies and possible ways to preserve the open and interoperable nature of the Internet.

Hybrid Format: During the roundtable format, which is chosen for this workshop, all speakers will express their view for 5-7 min before going for a discussion among the attendees. As sessions are now held in a hybrid format we kindly welcome all forms of participation from our speakers both online and offline. The moderator will introduce subject matter experts and explain the discussion topic before engaging all discussants in the room and online in a roundtable conversation. The moderator will also closely follow the discussion in order to give floor to all the speakers and any participants wishing to speak. The onsite and online attendees will have equal opportunity to speak up and ask their questions on the topic. The best way of facilitation is to organize it in turn, alternating onsite and online attendees. In this case everyone online and offline will have an equal chance to take a floor and see themselves as a full member of the session. Mentimeter (https://www.menti.com) Session would involve instant feedback collection from the audience as a main feature. All participants, including those online, would be asked to access Mentimeter via the link and QR-code that would help to interact and allow for a quick reaction of the audience to certain aspects of discussion or answer the prepared questions.

Online Participation


Usage of IGF Official Tool.