Splinternet: Technology trends – Verdict

The traditional internet is increasingly under threat from the ‘splinternet’, the term used to describe the fragmentation of the internet into competing technospheres. Increasingly, nation-states are imposing restrictions, increasing the pressure on the web governance system established decades ago.

Listed below are usually the key technology trends impacting the splinternet theme, as identified by GlobalData.

China’s Great Firewall

China’s Great Firewall will be the most prominent example of state-led internet censorship. In the particular early 1990s, the Chinese government started developing a system of internet controls that stopped citizens from connecting to banned foreign websites—from Google, Facebook, and Yahoo to The New York Times—and blocked politically sensitive domestic content, preventing mass organising online. And China does not want these capabilities to remain only in China.

A 2021 report from the International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) suggested that will Beijing wants other countries to govern the internet the same way it will. It already exports digital infrastructure to more than 60 countries through its Belt and Road Initiative, and Chinese companies export surveillance products in order to developing nations in Africa, South America, plus central Asia.

New web protocol (IP)

China is developing a technology for a new network with a top-down design aimed at reinventing the internet. The telecom giant Huawei, together with China Unicom and China Telecom, first proposed the idea of the new web architecture at the ITU within 2019, sparking controversy among Western delegations. The proposal describes the particular TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)—the existing suite of communication protocols used to connect system devices upon the internet—as “unstable” plus “vastly insufficient” to meet the requirements associated with the electronic world simply by 2030.

Critics are concerned that the New IP “will lead to more centralised, top-down control of the internet and potentially even its users, with implications on security and human rights, ” as highlighted in a 2021 paper by Oxford Information Labs.

Artificial intelligence (AI) surveillance

AI has become an area of intense rivalry between governments seeking technical and normative leadership in this field, with little global cooperation. This is especially undesirable given AI’s ability in order to enable mass surveillance. The growing number of nations are deploying advanced AI surveillance tools to monitor citizens. A 2019 paper from your Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found that at least 176 countries globally actively use AI technologies for monitoring purposes. This includes smart city and safe city platforms, facial recognition systems, plus so-called wise policing.

Surveillance is also at the heart associated with what Shoshana Zuboff, in The Age of Surveillance, defines as the particular exploitative nature of security capitalism, i. e., the mining of users’ data by Silicon Valley giants to predict and shape behaviour. In short, surveillance is increasingly embedded in the splinternet, both in its non-democratic and democratic versions.


Today ransomware attacks are waged at an unprecedented scale against national infrastructures, such as the US oil pipeline operator Colonial within 2021, the particular UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in 2017, and even the city of Baltimore. As the digital space splinters into different visions associated with the internet, cooperation within cybersecurity to prevent cyberattacks becomes more difficult.

The 2021 US-Russia presidential summit outlined their differing approaches to the cybersecurity dialogue. This dialogue has become critical for the US, as the particular country is usually plagued by ransomware attacks, including those originating from Russia, such because the SolarWinds attack or general misinformation campaigns by the Kremlin. On the other hand, Russia seems more interested in gaining greater sovereignty over its internet than setting rules on appropriate cyber behaviour.

These diverging approaches were observed in the United Nation’s (UN’s) first global meeting on cyber norms in 2019. While the Russia-sponsored Open-Ended Working Group focused on reaching a consensus regarding cyberspace sovereignty and non-interference within states’ political affairs, the US-backed Team of Governmental Experts emphasised creating an open and free environment in cyberspace.


Blockchain has great potential with regard to businesses, but the lack of uniform specialized standards has hampered the development. With an offer of ultracheap server space, Beijing is trying to fill this void by promoting its Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) plus pitching it to developers worldwide since capable of providing the necessary electronic infrastructure. According to The particular Wall Street Journal, the particular BSN boasted 20, 000 users and thousands of blockchain-related projects in 2021.

The BSN project aligns along with Beijing’s other efforts to influence next-generation technologies plus gain worldwide leverage. No centralised state-level blockchain alternative to China’s exists so far, and Beijing can decide who can use the technologies in the first place, potentially acting as a gatekeeper.


Cryptocurrencies have been pulled into the techno-nationalism arena, accelerated by the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). Customer a case within point. The country actively supports the development of global CBDC standards. Beijing was one associated with the largest cryptocurrency markets until 2021, when the particular People’s Bank of The far east declared all virtual currency-related business activities illegal because they endanger the safety of people’s assets.

While cracking down on private cryptocurrencies, Beijing started to design the digital renminbi (or e-CNY), a state-sponsored digital currency. Geopolitics and the ongoing war in Ukraine are likely to accelerate China’s efforts—and those of other countries like Russia—to build a parallel banking program and trading currency built upon CBDCs to replace the particular current US-regulated payments systems.


The particular splinternet and Web3—an idea for the new iteration from the internet—have conflicting interests. Although both look to relandscape the current version of the web, different power dynamics between big tech companies, government authorities, and end-users will ultimately cause these two visions of the internet in order to clash. Web3 aims to decentralise networks but place more power at the fingertips of end-users.

The advancement of decentralisation technologies has been a driving force for Web3. In particular, blockchain-based systems such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralised finance (DeFi), and decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) have contributed in order to the rising popularity associated with Web3 in recent years. However, many of these remain emerging technologies. As a result, innovation of decentralisation technology will need to keep pace with top-down moves to re-instate Web2 power dynamics.

This is an edited extract from the particular Splinternet – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Study.