1 post tagged with "splinternet"

View All Tags

Can We Stop the Splinternet? Is the Cyberbalkanization of the Internet Inevitable or Can We Stop it?

On 29th April 2022, 60+ countries, including the United States, members of the European Union and 33 other countries signed The Declaration for the Future of the Internet, that calls for “all partners who actively support a future for the Internet that is open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure”.

In other words, the Declaration aims to stop the balkanization of the Internet, or the “Splinternet”.

What is the Splinternet?#

The Splinternet or the balkanization of the Internet is the process of dividing the Internet into pieces caused by any of the following factors:

  • Politics
  • Geography
  • Religion
  • National interests
  • Technology
  • Commerce

Once fragmented like this, each separate fragment becomes an entity of its own, disconnected from the rest of the Internet and at the whim of whoever is controlling it (usually the local government).

Examples of the Splinternet#

Unfortunately, the Splinternet is not a theoretical threat.

It is already happening and there are several examples of what awaits us if we allow it.

The Great Firewall of China#

In 2003, China initiated its Golden Shield Project, a huge censoring and surveillance system, and fully completed it in 2006.

An important part of this project is the Great Firewall, which basically bans all international websites that the Communist Party of China (CPC) deems “unsafe”.

This includes 311,000 domains, according to the GFWatch system developed by a group of academics who tested 534 million domains between April and December 2020.

Some of the blocked websites include:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Zoom
  • Reddit
  • Spotify
  • Twitch
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Etc.

Russian “Runet”#

Although Russia definitely stepped up their Internet censorship game since the invasion of Ukraine, they’ve actually been pushing for an Internet they can easily control for some time now.

Since the start of the Ukraine war on 24th February, Russia has blocked 2.633 websites including:

  • 2,012 news sites
  • 482 sites that contribute to the Ukraine war efforts
  • 26 charity and non-profit websites, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International
  • Popular sites like Google News, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

In 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the “Sovereign Internet Law” legislation which aimed to stop “US’s aggressive cybersecurity strategy”.

This law led to “Runet”, an intranet completely separate from the global Internet and independent from other sources, through which the Russian government can filter and control what its citizens can see.

North Korea and Iran#

Access to the Internet in North Korea is only available to its citizens and visitors through a 3G phone network and even then all you can see is government propaganda and websites that praise Kim Jong-un 24/7.

To access the global Internet, you’d have to be a high-ranking government official.

Iran is also heavily blocking Internet content that they see as “immoral”.

Some of the sites blocked in Iran include:

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Wordpress.org
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • CNN
  • Fox News
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Etc.

Why We Can’t Allow the Splinternet to Happen?#

So why is Splinternet dangerous and why is it important not to let it take full swing?

First of all, the “promise of the Internet” is to be “an open ‘network of networks’”.

This means the Internet should be open to everyone and free of government and corporate influence.

That is the only way to ensure the free flow of information and the exchange of ideas.

The Splinternet aims to do just the opposite and that is to fragment the Internet in a way that allows individual governments to fully control its content on the little Internet island that they now control.

Another problem that the Splinternet will lead to are more cyberattacks and the weaponization of the Internet.

Countries like Russia and China are already busy sending out government-backed hackers to disrupt and block western websites and spread misinformation. As the Internet gets fragmented, these threat actors no longer have to worry about the Internet in their country but can easily carry out cyberattacks in other countries, aka, its “enemies”.

Splinternet is NOT Decentralization#

Splinternet should not and must not be confused with decentralized Internet.

In fact, it is the centralization of the Internet that has been happening for a while now that has been largely responsible for the censorship on the Internet and thus the Splinternet itself.

The Declaration for the Future of the Internet says that:

“The Internet should operate as a single, decentralized network of networks - with global reach and governed through the multistakeholder approach, whereby governments and relevant authorities partner with academics, civil society, the private sector, technical community and others.”

At Telios, we would also add “that ensures secure communication and the privacy of your data”.

One of the main ways to communicate online is through email. Unfortunately, popular email services like Gmail or YahooMail are not safe and even secure and end-to-end email services like ProtonMail can be controlled as long as you control their servers.

Telios is a peer-to-peer decentralized email built for privacy and security that ensures that only you can access your encrypted information.

You can download the Telios desktop app for Windows, macOS, or GNU/Linux or get the lifetime deal at AppSumo for $59 with a 60-day full money-back guarantee.