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Since the birth of the World Wide Web in 1989, despite the fact that the key function of the Internet is to communicate, share and distribute information without borders, countries have varied in their understanding and policies on how the Internet should work in their jurisdiction; some have codified laws bolstering Internet sovereignty or built firewalls to control online information flows. At the 25th anniversary of the Internet in 2014, the Pew Research Center invited over 1400 technology industry leaders and academics to reflect on the impact of the Internet over the next ten years. The top Internet threat these experts named was that nation-states could increasingly block, filter, segment and Balkanize the Internet for geopolitical, economic, social and security reasons.
In 2020, six years after that Pew report, amidst a global pandemic, growing populist partisanship in many countries, and heightened geopolitical tensions between the world’s largest economies, the splintering of Internet communities seems even more imminent than before, as governments seek to limit the sometimes harmful power of social media speech and Internet companies' encroachments on personal privacy. Is the global trend towards segmentation and Balkanization of the Internet forthcoming? What are its implications for business operations globally in terms of cost, planning, continuity, and liabilities ? How will cyber threats evolve as businesses adjust their operations to adapt to a more-segmented Internet? This talk will address these issues by identifying and characterizing the evidence of the segmentation and Balkanization of the Internet and by providing broad cyber threat and risk profiles for each region and practical mitigation measures to improve business resilience.