Sovereignty and the Internet: a risk of fragmentation – FA 04 Sub 02 2022

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22 June 2022 | 14:45 - 15:55 CEST | SISSA Main Auditorium | Live streaming | Live transcription
Consolidated programme 2022 overview / Day 2

Proposals: #19 #20 #23 #77

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Session teaser

Increasing calls for digital sovereignty have been met with complaints against the risk of a "splinternet", breaking the global network into national and regional islands. Can we imagine a good way to reconcile the two viewpoints?

Session description

Until a few years ago, the fragmentation of the Internet into smaller national networks was mostly a phenomenon of a few specific countries, whose governments had introduced topological barriers between their network and the rest of the Internet to limit or screen access to global resources by their citizens.

More recently, an increased strive for digital sovereignty over the activity of global Internet platforms has created fragmentation at the regulatory level; to do business globally, Internet business have to cope with the diverse and sometimes conflicting legislations of each country. Sometimes, regulation is also aimed at blocking undesirable content from other countries.

Additionally, the big platforms have deployed private networks on a global scale and have adopted a cloud service architecture which turns the Internet into pure transport for their own encrypted traffic, prompting a decline in the importance of global public interconnection and creating multiple walled gardens.

These trends are often happening in the name of the end-user, to protect consumers from market oligopolies or to offer them better service, but they could also endanger the original concept of a global and unique network, with all the benefits that it has brought.

Is there a line to draw between the normal regulation of telecommunications and the destruction of the Internet as we know it? Where should this line be drawn? How should the Internet community react to these trends? Can we imagine ways to accommodate the need for national sovereignty while protecting the global nature of the Internet?


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  • Vittorio Bertola

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  • Vittorio Bertola
  • Giovanni De Gregorio
  • Luc Steinberg
  • Adam Peake
  • Samo Grasic
  • David Frautschy
  • Charles Martinet
  • Peter Koch
  • Irene Signorelli

Key Participants

  • Peter Koch, Senior Policy Advisor, DENIC eG
  • Jurgita Miseviciute, Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Proton AG
  • Esteve Sanz, Head of Internet Governance Sector, DG CNECT, European Commission


  • Vittorio Bertola, Head of Policy & Innovation, Open-Xchange AG

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