1 big thing ... Two internets: A world and web divided
A global reckoning on the future of the internet is underway, Axios' Sara Fischer and Alison Snyder write:
- Autocratic regimes are increasingly censoring the internet in their countries.
- And races to develop new internet technologies, such as blockchain and 5G, are heating up between the U.S. and China.
Why it matters: The next version of the internet could be split between countries that embrace an open web and isolationists that don't.
- It could also be fractured by different technologies that could fundamentally change the interconnected nature of the network and limit who can do business where.
What's new: India recently announced a proposal that would install a Chinese-style of internet censorship ahead of its elections.
- The move brings India, which has the second-largest internet population, farther from other democratic republics around the globe.
Elsewhere, nations are using election security risks and geopolitical threats as an excuse to introduce heavy-handed censorship rules:
- Russia is considering a plan to temporarily disconnect from the internet as a way to test its cyberdefenses.
- Some African nations are continuing to use censorship to manipulate elections. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, for example, have faced pressure to reduce efforts to censor or shut off the internet ahead of elections.
- China has long used a "Great Firewall" to block access to certain sites.
What's next: New technology and shifting economics will also be driving forces in how the internet develops around the world.
- Blockchain: Some experts see this open-source technology, which powers bitcoin, as a tool that will drive the expansion of an open web.
- 5G: The fifth generation of mobile connectivity will be so much faster than the current network, that experts think the first region or corporation to create an expansive 5G network will create its own version of the web.
The bottom line: The internet, which for years has been perceived as the driving force for global connectivity, could one day wind up separating the world.