World Economic Forum (WEF) White Paper: Internet Fragmentation

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently posted the white paper

Internet Fragmentation: An Overview (January 2016)

From the Executive Summary (page 3/6 of the PDF) of the document:

…the Internet is in some danger of splintering or breaking up into loosely coupled islands of connectivity. A number of potentially troubling trends driven by technological developments, government policies and commercial practices have been rippling across the Internet’s layers….

The growth of these concerns does not indicate a pending cataclysm. The Internet remains stable and generally open and secure in its foundations, and it is morphing and incorporating new capabilities that open up extraordinary new horizons, from the Internet of Things and services to the spread of block chain technology and beyond. … But there are challenges accumulating which, if left unattended, could chip away to varying degrees at the Internet’s enormous capacity to facilitate human progress. We need to take stock of these….

The purpose of this document is to contribute to the emergence of a common baseline understanding of Internet fragmentation. It maps the landscape of some of the key trends and practices that have been variously described as constituting Internet fragmentation and highlights 28 examples.

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Internet for Everyone

Two of our law professors, Barbara van Schewick and Larry Lessig, among others, are driving a new campaign to ensure universal high-speed Internet service.  Today’s San Jose Mercury News has a story by Frank Davies about the Internetforeveryone.org campaign, “Broad coalition backs universal broadband.” From the story:

Better broadband access and quality can be a boring and technical issue, fraught with bureaucratic complications, admitted the organizers for InternetforEveryone.org. But they also see it as crucial to the future of the U.S. economy, education and even the health of democracy.

At a news conference in New York, the group warned that the United States is falling behind European and Asian nations with Internet access that is more limited, more expensive and slower. . . .

 

Zipcar founder Robin Chase, also a member of the coalition, is quoted as comparing high-speed to a utility:  “Maybe it’s not as basic as water, but it’s as basic as hot water.”

The campaign is also the subject of an item in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s The Wired Campus today, “Higher Education Groups Become Part of Broad Internet Coalition.”