There has been growing concern over the past few years that the global public Internet is in danger of splintering into a series of bordered cyberspaces. Although there has been some hyperbole and misspecification in the nascent discussion, there are nevertheless a number of trends that could reduce the Internet’s openness and interoperability and increase the barriers to the contents and transactions it conveys. A few examples include national ‘cyber-sovereignty’ strategies intended to increase state authority over the Internet within territorial borders; some types of data localization requirements on the processing, retention and transmission of data; digital protectionism that imposes barriers to cross-border commerce; blocking of websites, social media, and other information resources due to concerns about undesirable contents or national security and law enforcement; the construction of so-called “walled garden” digital platforms; and delays and unevenness in the deployment of the new technologies needed to expand and secure cyberspace in order to accommodate the Internet of Things and other key developments.
There is no general consensus about the nature, scope and potential impact of Internet fragmentation, much less how the issues could best be addressed. Accordingly, this workshop brings together a multistakeholder group of analysts to advance the conversation and help build a shared understanding of the topic. The workshop will build inter alia on an initial mapping report, "Internet Fragmentation: An Overview" that was written by William J. Drake, Vinton Cerf and Wolfgang Kleinwächter and released at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2016 http://bit.ly/1VxW0G2. Topics will include the nature of Internet fragmentation; technical, commercial and governmental forms of fragmentation; and options for advancing global awareness and distributed responses to problematic cases. The format will be an interactive roundtable, and sufficient time will be reserved for open dialogue among all participants.