After its invasion of Ukraine, concerns flared over a decoupling of Russia from the global internet. This has not materialized, but we may be witnessing the start of a more fundamental fragmentation of the global Internet.
It is high time for states to double down on efforts at preserving the internet as a global public good. With the work towards a Global Digital Compact, facilitated by the UN Secretary-General’s Tech Envoy and to be agreed in September 2024, a global and inclusive process to develop shared principles for the digital space is ongoing. This is a key opportunity for forging a universal recognition of the global internet as a critical enabler for addressing common challenges, including those laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Efforts should also entail targeted dialogue, for instance in the Group of 20, on key fragmentary drivers such as concerns about espionage and sabotage of internet infrastructure. Stemming the tide of internet fragmentation can appear like a daunting task–but the stakes are high.