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Splinternet or Democratic Data Alliance

01/08/21
| Sam duPont


This year will be a pivot point when it comes to state sovereignty over data and the internet. The trend toward “digital sovereignty” began in China, but governments from Brussels to Berlin to Washington to New Delhi have been rolling out new laws and policies to govern the Internet, some of which would erect digital walls along political borders. It is no longer controversial that domestic laws should apply in cyberspace, and a growing roster of digital risks merits government action: privacy violations, online disinformation, biased algorithms, and the economics of the industry that heighten inequality. But as governments exert ever more control over data and digital networks, the Internet risks fracturing along national boundaries. This may be the year when the “splinternet” is entrenched, and the idea of a global Internet begins to die. Or it may be the year when like-minded governments begin to collaborate in earnest on defining a democratic alternative, with rules that allow data to move freely and securely across borders, and ensure the Internet remains global.

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