Messages from Tampere – Main Topic 2: Internet fragmentation

Subtopic 1:

Understanding the risks of Internet fragmentation

Rapporteur: Bojana Kovač, Geneva Internet Platform

  1. Different governments, actors, and stakeholders have different perspectives on what Internet fragmentation is. Thus, it is crucial to address the risks that come with it. Policy proposals that fragment the Internet, whether intentionally or not, prevent it from being a global space, though they may sometimes be necessary to protect other rights and the public interest. The private sector may also fragment the Internet by closing down services into walled gardens and breaking the principle of interoperability through open standards.
  2. Geopolitics is another concern, as politicising the fundamentals of the Internet can endanger its technical nature. Content regulations that had unintentional effects on the technical level are now becoming intentional. The call for action is to enhance cross-government education and communication on Internet governance while also ensuring that companies, civil society, and the technical community are included in such discussions.

Subtopic 2:

Internet fragmentation: what’s next?

Rapporteur: Bojana Kovač, Geneva Internet Platform

  1. The Global Digital Compact (GDC) has encouraged states to address fragmentation. Taking into account the views of stakeholders, developing Internet protocols, promoting global discussions, and fostering open and competitive digital markets are vital to addressing Internet fragmentation and the digital divide. Content policies must align with international human rights principles to maintain a unified and rights-focused approach.
  2. There is a need for harmonisation and cooperation among stakeholders to understand the causes of Internet fragmentation. We should rethink the Internet fragmentation discussion to not conflate it with business interests and ensure that the technical aspect is addressed carefully. There is a need to raise awareness of the risks of Internet fragmentation and also an opportunity to build on the capacities of the technical community and other stakeholders who are interested in addressing these challenges. Proven solutions, like the Internet Impact Assessment toolkit, can be a way forward.

Subtopic 3:

How can the Global Digital Compact prevent Internet fragmentation?

Rapporteur: Mark Carvell, independent Internet governance policy adviser and member of the EuroDIG Support Association

  1. The Global Digital Compact should include detailed and transparent commitments by stakeholders – including governments, regulators and the technical community – to prevent fragmentation of the Internet’s core technical resources and of their governance.
  2. The GDC process should continue to engage stakeholders, including the national and regional IGFs, in the finalisation and implementation of the Compact.