WHAT IS SPLINTERNET?
Also known as Cyberbalkanization, splinternet is the characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests.
It involves different countries controlling the internet based on their national interests. This consists of filtering content or blocking it entirely for political purposes.
The use of splinternet in India ranges from banning Tik Tok and other Chinese apps to the internet shutdown that took place in the Kashmir Valley. Just before the annulment of Jammu and Kashmir’s special political status.
IS NAYA BHARAT NET A POSSIBILITY?
Even though authoritarianism by the Indian state is on the rise, India has yet to articulate its position on some of the divisive issues concerning global norms in cyberspace. Today, the economy for such a move does not exist and IT Industry would obviously vigorously oppose it.
But Never say Never, especially the way things are going.
Facebook censors according to local laws and dictates, and so Facebook is already very different in each country.
Google is one of the leading advocates and practitioners of algorithmic personalization and local customization. As a result, Google sites like YouTube are completely different in different countries. Trending and recommended videos are selected according to local or national languages, personalities and preferences so that each country where YouTube is allowed in has its own local version of YouTube.
WHAT IS THE GLOBAL SITUATION LIKE?
Last year, internet shutdowns took place in 33 countries and cost the global economy more than $8 billion. A significant number of countries are deliberately filtering keywords and cutting access to the web in order to control the flow of information about the Coronavirus outbreak.
IS IT EVEN LEGAL?
When it comes to censorship, the process is more complicated in democratic countries than in dictatorships. In places like Iran and Venezuela, autocrats can order the Internet service provider—there’s typically only one—to block sites or tell a phone company to shut down an app. Democracies, on the other hand, require the force of law before governments can tamper with a website.
Nations that have gone the furthest to isolate their national internets from the international internet are in a far better position to survive all-out cyberwar than the countries (like the U.S.) that are naively pushing for a single global internet. Splinternet is also a good way of controlling the illegal digitisation of activities like :
- Rape Porn, Child Porn, Revenge Porn
- Hard drug sales (especially to minors)
However, the cons out way the pros for sure given we've seen that the Governments benefit way too much from it.
Remember USA's allegations that Russia tampered with their elections?
Splinternet is a good way to avoid that. Or so they say.
BUT WHY THOUGH?
The idea that freedom of expression is the highest value is a very American idea, which the internet utopians of the ’90s hoped they could impose on the world. They couldn’t.
It turns out that religious countries don’t want blasphemy and pornography flooding in from the rest of the world. Governments don’t want insurgents to use the internet to overthrow democracies. Democracies don’t want fake news causing riots.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?
Slowly, before you know it, the world wide web is being converted to a world war web with countries trying to protect their national interests and promoting false political stances by using the internet. With Splinternet, the information you access is so filtered that it simply defies the idea of free thought and speech.
From a Political perspective the strategy is - "If you can't beat them or win them, regulate and control them.”