The series “Is the Internet Fragmenting” examined Internet fragmentation from technical, economic, and policy lenses was organized in response to recent developments related to the Internet. These developments have prompted alarming questions about whether the Internet is fragmenting as a result of developments and decisions that have been taken in response to the continued growth and globalization of the Internet and its evolving role as critical infrastructure for the digital economy. The series kicked off on May 10th.

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  • There is a natural tension between the bottom up nature of open standards development and the multistakeholder model best suited for the Internet and the top down nature of policy making. This is exemplified by organization such as the ITU.
  • Internet openness produces substantial economic benefits, however there is currently a lack of robust data to support this. Such data will help to guide policy in the future.
  • Continued interoperability, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow at exponential rates will be essential to achieve the global economic growth and social progress as envisioned by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (STGs). Internet fragmentation is a direct threat to the attainment of those goals.
  • Trust in the Internet will be an essential element in sustaining its future, especially as more and more of our lives are online and Internet use is required. People will need to know that their data, financial transactions, health records, etc., are secure to have continued faith in the Internet.
  • The Internet is by its nature a great amplifier of human rights because it provides a powerful tool for the freedoms of expression and association, and access to information. Therefore, fragmenting the Internet is detrimental to human rights. .
  • The multistakeholder model provides the best framework for people and organizations to work together to ensure the open standards and policies to support them that are necessary to support the continuing evolution of the Internet. It is very important that we provide support and resources to smaller countries that not have the resources to tackle all of the difficult challenges in these endeavors.


In this session, the panelists and audience were asked to consider these issues more fully, including:

  • What are the main challenges to maintaining an open, end to end, resilient, and stable internet infrastructure?
  • How do we best develop and maintain local and sustainable ecosystems for the digital economy, particularly ones that are secure and protect privacy?
  • Going forward, how should policy makers develop more holistic views of Internet governance that involve the necessary stakeholders and take into account human and economic rights?
  • How can we as a community enable policy that is well intentioned by better informing policy makers?


Kathryn Brown
President and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Society

Micaela Klein
Senior Advisor for Internet Policy, U.S. Department of State

Andrew Sullivan
Fellow, Dyn; Chair, Internet Architecture Board, IETF

Jeremy West
Senior Policy Analyst, OECD-OCDE

Dr. M-H. Carolyn Nguyen – Moderator
Technology Policy Strategist, Microsoft

For more information on this event, click here.

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