The IGF 2014 Fragmentation Track

August 25, 2014

The risk of fragmentation of cross-border online spaces and the underlying technical architecture of the Internet raises increasing concerns among policy makers, business, civil society and the technical community. The Internet Society (ISOC), the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Internet & Jurisdiction Project (I&J Project) are organizing three workshops on this issue at the Internet Governance Forum 2014, which will take place from September 2-5, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Together, the three sessions will help frame the broader debate and shed light on complementary perspectives on the risk of fragmentation: What are the processes that could lead to fragmentation, what are the broader costs associated with fragmentation and how can cooperation regimes be developed to prevent fragmentation?

Tuesday, September 2 • 9:00am - 10:00am, Room 8 (Internet Society)
WS112: Implications of post-Snowden Internet localization proposals
Following the 2013-2014 disclosures of large-scale pervasive surveillance of Internet traffic, various proposals to "localize" the Internet have started to emerge. Examples include mandatory requirements for global Internet platforms to build local data centers to serve local populations. While localization of data and traffic routing strategies can be powerful tools for improving Internet experience for end-users, less optimal choices may be made in reaction to external factors. How can we judge between Internet-useful versus Internet-harmful localisation and traffic routing approaches? What are the implications of such measures on the way the Internet works, the ability to innovate online and for users’ rights?

Wednesday, September 3 • 5:00pm - 6:00pm, Room 9 (CIGI)
WS63: Preserving a Universal Internet: The Costs of Fragmentation
As Internet governance and Internet-related public policy issues rise to the top of the international political agenda, a variety of states are exploring measures that may lead, deliberately or inadvertently, to Internet fragmentation. Such measures include (but are not limited to) those intended to prevent or mitigate harms associated with digital connectivity, as well as measures intended to capture economic benefits resulting from online activity, such as implementing alternate models for monetizing the exchange of Internet traffic or taxation or imposing fees on online activity. The effectiveness of such approaches at reducing digital harm and capturing economic benefits is unclear and can pose potential risks to the end-to-end accessibility of the Internet. This session will attempt to scope the economic, social, international political, cultural and educational costs associated with Internet fragmentation.

Thursday, September 4 • 2:30pm - 4:00pm, Room 2 (Internet & Jurisdiction Project)
WS97: Will Cyberspace fragment along national jurisdictions?
This session will focus on the challenge to determine applicable law(s) on the Internet, as multiple laws coexist in shared cross-border online spaces. In the absence of appropriate frameworks, uncoordinated national approaches proliferate. A resulting legal competition could have unintended consequences and result in cyberspace fragmentation. How can a multi-stakeholder framework be developed that ensures transnational due process, transparency and interoperability to diffuse tensions through cooperation?

Instructions about Remote Participation will be published by the UN on September 1 at In addition, webcasts will also be available at

About the organizers:

Centre for International Governance Innovation
The Centre for International Governance Innovation is an independent, non-partisan think tank focusing on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports academic research and advances both national and international policy debate by generating ideas for the improvement of multilateral governance. In early 2014, CIGI, along with Chatham House, established the Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG). The Commission is chaired by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. Over the next two years, the GCIG will bring together senior scholars, policymakers, and public figures to deliberate on the major issues in Internet governance. The GCIG is supported by a Research Advisory Network, which is composed of some of the world foremost experts on various aspects of the Internet and Internet governance.

Internet & Jurisdiction Project
The Internet & Jurisdiction Project facilitates a global multi-stakeholder dialogue process to address the tension between the cross-border Internet and geographically-defined national jurisdictions. Launched in 2012, it provides a neutral platform for states, business, civil society and international organizations to discuss the elaboration of a transnational due process framework to handle the digital coexistence of diverse national laws in shared cross-border online spaces.

Internet Society
A global, cause-driven organization, the Internet Society is a leading advocate for the ongoing development of the Internet as an open platform that serves the social, economic, and educational needs of people throughout the world. Founded in 1992 by several Internet pioneers, the Internet Society works in the areas of technology, policy, and development to promote an open, accessible Internet for everyone. A shared vision of keeping the Internet open unites the 60,000 individuals, more than 100 Chapters, and more than 150 Organizations around the world that are members of the Internet Society. Together, we represent a worldwide network focused on identifying and addressing the challenges and opportunities that exist online today and in the years ahead.  Twitter: @internetsociety

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.

About the Authors

Eric Jardine is a CIGI fellow and an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech. Eric researches the uses and abuses of the dark Web, measuring trends in cyber security, how people adapt to changing risk perceptions when using new security technologies, and the politics surrounding anonymity-granting technologies and encryption.

Samantha Bradshaw is a CIGI fellow and a leading expert on technology and democracy. Her research concerns the politics embedded in information and communication technologies, and how political actors exploit these affordances for propaganda and persuasion.

Paul Fehlinger is co-founder and manager of the Internet & Jurisdiction Project. He is actively engaged in global internet governance fora, speaking at venues such as the Internet Governance Forum, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Council of Europe.