Building on recent explorations on how the Internet appears to be fragmenting, the workshop took place on 9 December during the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), an annual United Nations-linked event bringing together governments, civil society, business, the technical community and Internet users to consider how to develop the Internet and use it for social and economic prosperity.
The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda emphasises the importance of the Internet and the quality of Internet access for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The workshop “Internet fragmentation: getting the next four billion online” provided a timely overview of the impacts Internet fragmentation trends can have on efforts to enable connectivity.
In three breakout groups focusing on infrastructure, capacity building for users and capacity building for government policymaking, participants shared ideas on how boundaries to Internet access can be overcome.
Community engagement in infrastructure building and increased local content in different dialects were identified as crucial in making sure an Internet connection addresses the needs of local communities. Sharing examples from Eastern Europe, Sorina Teleanu of the Diplo Foundations said: “Lack of access to local content can be a form of Internet fragmentation.”
IPv6 adoption and pragmatic approaches to investment and innovation were also highlighted as key factors in making sure the Internet is an open tool that users find relevant and beneficial.
Fragmentation was also raised from a perspective of the security gap between “new” and established Internet users. Participants offered steps stakeholders should take to ensure benefits of access to the Internet are inclusive.
ICC BASIS member Carolyn Nguyen of Microsoft said: “We need to work together to inform policy stakeholders globally on the impact of Internet fragmentation on the Sustainable Development Goals, in the hope that will motivate well-intentioned policy decisions. Any connectivity initiatives should involve local organisations and communities if they are to address the real needs of people and be sustainable.”
View the full workshop recording