Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation



January 2023 - IGF2022 Policy Network Internet Fragmentation output (.pdf) / Summary (.pdf)


Join the PNIF session at IGF2022 to discuss the draft framework for discussing internet fragmentation

IGF Policy Network Internet Fragmentation - draft framework


About the Policy Network on Internet Fragementation (PNIF)

The Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation (PNIF) proposal was born out of a community initiative launched by a multistakeholder coalition of civil society, business and technical community organizations in 2021 to raise awareness of the technical, policy, legal and regulatory measures and actions that pose a risk to the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet.  The PNIF aims to offer a systematic and comprehensive framework, complemented by case studies, to define Internet fragmentation, its causes, and its potential effects and it aims to establish recommendations or codes of conduct that prevent fragmentation.

The objective of this policy network would be to: (a) Offer a systematic and comprehensive framework to define Internet fragmentation, its intended and unintended causes, and its potential effects; (b) Collect and analyze case studies to fine-tune and complement this framework; (c) Establish shared principles, recommendations or codes of conduct that prevent fragmentation and preserve the open, interconnected and interoperable nature of the Internet. 

About the issue - In recent years, technical, legislative and policy developments have furthered the risk that the Internet fragments into siloed parts. These developments include bans or restrictions on international data flows, interference with free expression, privacy, and/or encryption; and Internet shutdowns. These developments may pose a threat to the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet, along with its associated benefits to social and economic development, while also harming human rights. Internet fragmentation can take place at various segments and functions of the Internet, any of which can prevent an open, interconnected and interoperable Internet.

The community engagement will continue to happen over a dedicated mailing list. All interested stakeholders are most welcome to subscribe through this link.



PNIF Workshop at IGF 2022 

30 November 2022, 06:30-08:00 am UTC

[draft agenda]

1.  Welcome

2.  The Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation - introduction

3.  Towards a framework for discussing internet fragmentation.

3.1.  Unpacking the draft framework

3.2.  Town hall discussion on internet fragmentation and the draft framework

3.3.  Summary of the discussion and input for the Main session

4. Looking forward - next steps for the PNIF


Ms Mazuba Haanyama, Head of Human rights Policy, Africa Middle East & Turkey, Meta; Ms Nawal Omar, Researcher at ICT Africa; Mr Olaf Kolkman, Principal at Internet Society; Mr Túlio César Mourthé de Alvim Andrade, Deputy Head, Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[moderation and coordination]

Ms Sheetal Kumar, PNIF co-coordinator, Ms Bruna Martins dos Santos, PNIF co-coordinator, Mr Wim Degezelle, IGF consultant PNIF. 


PNIF Working meeting - draft PNIF Internet fragmentation framework

14 November 2022, 15:30-17:00 UTC


The PNIF working meeting will discuss and further refine the PNIF Internet fragmentation framework that emerged from the PNIF webinars and prepare it to feed into PNIF session at the IGF

  1. Welcome and introduction, purpose of the framework. 
  2. Open discussion on the drat PNIF Internet fragmentation framework
  3. Conclusion and next steps

[draft PNIF Internet fragmentation framework]

The general goal of the PNIF IF framework is to serve as a general guiding/orienting document paving the way to inclusive and focused discussions about solutions and policy approaches to the issue of Internet fragmentation. 

Elements of the draft framework are:

  • Fragmentation of the user experience
  • Technical layer fragmentation
  • The 'in-between' (eg where technical development tends towards or away from fragmentation of the user experience)
  • Internet governance / coordination fragmentation
PNIF Webinar II - What can be done about Internet Fragmentation, and who should be doing what ?

27 October 2022, 13:30-15:30 UTC


  1. Welcome and introduction. 
    • Summary and key takeaways of the 1st webinar.
  2. Avoiding internet fragementation - Bringing everyone on the same page.
    1. Towards common principles all stakeholders can agree about 
      • Input from the 1st webinar: The internet has never been not fragmented and varying levels of fragmentation are consistent with the development of the internet. However severe fragmentation that causes malfunctioning or breaking the internet is inconsistent with the ideal of an open interoperable internet that respects human rights and allows for critical access. 
      • questions: What are common principles or a common minimal denominator all stakeholders can and should agree about? 
    2. Achieving policy goals without interfering with the Internet's operability
      • Input from the 1st webinar:  Fragmentation can be caused by technical, governmental or commercial practices. There's a need for further and precise discussion about fragmentation, practices and what should or shouldn't be done, including a dialogue on how legitimate goals can be achieved without interfering with the internet's operability.
      • questions: What are examples of practices to achieve policy goals that are good alternatives to existing actives that risk to affect the interoperability of the internet?
    3. Role of multilateral and multistakeholder spaces, including the IGF
      • input from the 1st webinar:  Both multilateral and multistakeholder spaces are relevant and have their own role to play. That the narrative of fragmentation is becoming mainstream and its discourse interwoven with security and competition concerns is a worrying evolution that may impact multilateral cooperation and the multistakeholder model supporting the open interoperable internet.
      • questions: What are priorities for the different stakeholders?  What concerns should be addressed where?  
  3. Summary and key takeaways from the 2nd webinar
  4. Looking forward to IGF 2022  

[discussants and moderators]

Discussants: Mr John Hughes, Mr Greg Nojeim, Ms Tatiana Tropina (additional discussants tbc). Moderators: Ms Sheetal Kumar, Ms Bruna Martins dos Santos.

PNIF Webinar I - 

What does Internet fragementation mean to you ?  Identifying fragmentation and key stakeholders.

15 Sepembter 2022,  13:00-15:00 UTC


  1. Welcome and PNIF introduction -
    • Introduction of the PNIF
    • Setting the scene: Avoiding fragmentation of the Internet is one of the complex digital issues the UN Secretary-General recommends addressing in the Global Digital Compact.
  2. What does Internet fragmentation mean to you
    1. Question 1: there are different approaches to defining and classifying fragmentation.  For policy makers it is important to understand concrete concerns.
      • What are concrete examples where technical, commercial or policy measures lead to fragmentation of the Internet? Why are these examples of concern? How does this measure or practice lead to fragmentation (i.e. what layer does it affect)? How does this impact people’s experience with the Internet? What are further-reaching impacts, e.g. on society?
    2. Question 2: Which parts or layers of the Internet are facing the greatest threat?
    3. Question 3:  What kind of response is needed from policymakers and other stakeholders.
      • Who should be doing what ? What are the possible actions required of different stakeholders ( Governments, Private sector, Technical community, Academia, Civil Society, International Treaty Organisations). What kind of guiding principles are needed?
  3. Wrap up and next steps
    1. Follow-up call:  Avoiding fragmentation of the internet: concrete actions, best practices and principles.

[discussants and moderators]

Discussants: Ms Allie Funk, Ms Anriette Esterhuysen, Ms Carolina Hippolito vor der Weid, Ms Farzaneh Badii, Mr Kevin Kohler, Mr Konstantinos Komaitis. Moderators: Ms Sheetal Kumar, Ms Time Suto

Survey  -  what does internet fragmentation mean to you?

The purpose of the survey is to understand, within the community, the different views of what internet fragmentation is, how it is manifesting and what existing work on understanding this phenomenon exists.

Please find the survey here:  https://forms.gle/A8G74vMLgf5hvqa37

The results of the survey will feed into a series of discussion calls we are planning for this Policy Network in the months of September and October, each which will look at the topic of internet fragmentation and also into the PNIF's report to the IGF this year.


PNIF Activities

Subscribe to the PNIF mailing list :  All interested stakeholders are most welcome to subscribe through this link.

Join the Policy Network Internet Fragmentation meetings

webpage of the Policy Network Multistakeholder Working Group of experts