Fragmented Internet Threatens Global Business Future

The Internet Society, a nonprofit, is led by Andrew Sullivan.

The Internet changed global business-customer relations. Today, the Internet is threatened and, in some circumstances, eroding. How we solve the Internet’s myriad problems will affect every company.

Business benefits from the Internet’s global reach, redundancy, and decentralisation. Splinternets—a scenario in which the “open, globally connected Internet splinters into a collection of isolated networks controlled by governments, corporations, or both”—loom over fragmentation. We must prevent it.Many factors are shaping this dismal future. Regulating the Internet to solve social ills is incorrect. Meanwhile, some of the world’s most successful and lucrative firms are fighting for so much of the Internet’s real estate that competing with them will be impossible.

In a techno-paradox, people are more reliant on the Internet yet more mistrustful of it.Internet Beauty

Through similar technology, multiple autonomous networks on the Internet function together without central control. That’s the issue. Local legal judgements, legislative and regulatory measures, and commercial activities further separate such networks.

Internet sections “snap together” like building bricks, lowering expenses. Modularity lets organisations outsource sections of their operations to top operators. Small organisations may have world-class networks. Any company may have a worldwide, redundant infrastructure to guard against any crisis. Companies may use global talent and collaborate across divisions.

Forbes Advisor said that retail e-commerce expanded by over $1 trillion U.S. from 2021 to 2023, and more than 20% of retail transactions would be online in 2023. The Internet has altered business beyond consumer sales. Cheap, dependable communications improve business-to-business communication, consumer feedback loops, supply chain management, and workplace flexibility during pandemics.

If the Internet fragments into geographical or jurisdictional islands, all of this is at danger. A fragmented Internet threatens the global economy and the technology sector.

Splintered Internet isn’t Internet.

Splinternet Evolution

The Internet has never been fully linked. Since the 1980s, network barriers have kept China out of the Internet.

Things accelerated about 2018. Russia did follow China’s approach in the early 2000s. However, their strongest attempts at the “sovereign RU-net” started about the same time Europe’s General Data Protection rule forced many U.S. websites to reject European users rather than comply with the rule.

This didn’t “break the Internet,” therefore nation- and region-based control has continued. Today, Internet-fragmenting rules are ubiquitous.

News Media Bargaining Code Australia. Canada’s Online Streaming Act. Brazil and several U.S. states have strict, inconsistent content control laws.

Europe’s Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts are enormous rules that may not be fully understood. India has anti-Internet laws and policies.

Countries are legislating “sender-network pays” systems that change data flow economics, led by South Korea.

The U.S., which established the Internet, is also eroding intermediate safeguards that enable networks to transit traffic without worrying about its safety.

Digital sovereignty often justifies these adjustments. They also promise to address internet giants that ignore social issues. Many of these modifications are made to protect one sector from the Internet’s economic developments.

Economic Risk

It’s easy to blame society’s biggest issues on the IT sector because the Internet is typically the scapegoat. They’re not.

Like the demise of roads, trains, and ports for sea and air, the progressive deterioration of the Internet threatens every firm that depends on it—practically every industry today. Turning the global Internet into isolated islands for sovereignty or company size concerns would repeat the early 1930s protectionist error.

Business leaders must convince politicians of the necessity of good Internet policy to protect the Internet from local politics and economic sector interests. Internet impact assessments (like environmental impact assessments) before passing legislation that affects technology and usability might encourage excellent policy.

That way, we can make sure the Internet maintains a solid foundation for companies to contact consumers, develop new technologies, and grow and prosper.

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