IGF 2023 WS #522 Protecting the open internet to foster civic resilience


Avoiding Internet Fragmentation
Digital Sovereignty
International Legal Perspectives
Technical challenges of Internet fragmentation

Organizer 1: Tucker Margaret, GitHub

Speaker 1: Mike Linksvayer, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Farzaneh Badii, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Tanmay Singh, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 4: Lee Jonathan, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Tucker Margaret, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Tucker Margaret, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Tucker Margaret, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

A. How does the open internet support civic resilience during a crisis?
B. What are the legal and policy levers (or barriers) to ensuring access to digital infrastructure?
C. How does internet fragmentation impact digital infrastructure availability during a crisis?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants will gain insight into the technical challenges of internet fragmentation, how fragmentation can compound a crisis, and how policy can be leveraged to protect the open internet. The session will feature perspectives from the private sector, civil society, and academia all engaged in efforts to protect the global internet.


Blocked. Throttled. Shutdown. During a crisis, whether it’s a natural disaster or an armed conflict, people need access to internet services more than ever. But the circumstances of a crisis can cut off people from accessing vital internet services – governments might impose sweeping internet blackouts to quell dissent, disasters could result in outages, or trade restrictions might limit where internet services can operate. Working to maintain availability amid acute crises illuminates the importance of the open internet to digital infrastructure.

Access to an open, interconnected internet is essential for people to communicate, learn, and collaboratively develop solutions to increasingly complex problems. The open internet is under threat from growing efforts throughout the world to nationalize and “splinter” the web, and crises can accelerate these threats. While internet services must comply with regulatory guidelines, they also have a responsibility to affirm internet freedom and ensure their services remain as broadly available as possible. In this panel, policy leaders from a variety of stakeholder perspectives will discuss the importance of internet freedom, how access to the global interconnected benefits society, and how they navigate maintaining availability during crises.

Expected Outcomes

Following the session, we will share a summary of key insights from the panelists and participant Q&A and will highlight follow-on resources and ways for participants to get involved.

Hybrid Format: This session will embrace the hybrid format by featuring an online chat forum in addition to the in-person Q&A, printed and digital one pagers translated in different languages, and a virtual and in-person poll to engage participants. Participants will be encouraged to connect in-person and online after the session, and we will direct the participants with a means to get in touch with the panelists if they have follow-on questions.