We’ve been noticing the possibility of a “splinternet” for a while. Internet shutdowns and different approaches to Internet rules by different countries have been happening. Recent events have brought us closer to a breaking point.
We need to protect the Internet now, or there might not be an Internet to save in the future.
To remind you, a “splinternet” is the opposite of the Internet we know. It’s the idea that the open, globally connected Internet we use today could split into isolated networks controlled by governments and companies. Most people don’t want this to happen.
How Would That Impact You?
The Internet is simple, and that’s what makes our online experiences smooth. You don’t need permission to send an email, shop online, or work together on a music project. If you have good and affordable Internet, you can just go online and do what you want.
But a “splinternet” would make things complicated. For example, your emails might not reach your friends in other countries, you might have to pay extra to shop from foreign websites, or you might not be able to collaborate with your band members.
Why should you be concerned? In short, the “splinternet” is getting closer.
The Internet is very tough, and we have plenty of data to prove it. It’s hard to imagine how we would have managed through an ongoing pandemic without this worldwide tool, which was quick and adaptable enough to meet our changing needs. However, we can’t assume it will always be this way.
The same things that make the Internet valuable and a crucial resource for humanity also make it susceptible to problems. We recently discussed three ways that could lead to a “splinternet.” These include:
1. Countries trying to disconnect from the Internet and control their own networks.
2. Governments make decisions about the Internet without protecting its functionality for everyone.
3. Countries making political requests and decisions that affect other countries’ access to the Internet.
The recent events triggered by the war in Ukraine have brought us closer to a worst-case scenario. A single political decision affecting another country’s Internet access could set a dangerous precedent leading to a splinternet.
Thankfully, G7 and European Union countries have taken steps to protect people’s Internet access through sanctions exemptions. But there’s still much more work needed.
Using the Internet isn’t just a privilege; it’s a responsibility to protect it. Each of us needs to act now to prevent a splinternet because turning back might not be possible.
The Internet Society, a global community with over 120 chapters and nearly 90,000 members worldwide, is already taking action to safeguard the Internet, and you can too.
You can take these three easy actions to help #ProtectTheInternet right now:
If you see something, say something.
Ask governments to #ProtectTheInternet.
Grow the movement using social media.