15 February 2024

On 14 February, MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri hosted a discussion on the "Risks of internet fragmentation", during which we focused on how to raise awareness about these threats, help stakeholders identify and fight against proposals that damage the Internet and empower the community to engage with policymaker and corporate decision-makers to ensure the Internet remains a global infrastructure open for everyone.

The debate featured the following speakers:

Esteve Sanz, Head of Sector, Internet Governance and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue, DG CNECT, European Commission
Paul Fehlinger, Director of Policy, Governance Innovation & Impact, Project Liberty
Dr. Mirja Kühlewind, Chair of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) in the Internet Engineering Task Force
Tatiana Tropina, Assistant Professor in Cybersecurity Governance at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University

Risks of Internet Fragmentation

In her opening remarks, MEP Miapetra Kumpula-Natri emphasized the critical need for maintaining a unified, open internet, highlighting how fragmentation poses threats to economic growth, social inclusion, and the democratic process. She stressed the importance of collaboration among international stakeholders to address these challenges.

Esteve Sanz discussed the European Commission's perspective on internet governance, focusing on the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach to prevent fragmentation. He underscored the need for global cooperation to uphold a free, open, and secure internet, highlighting initiatives aimed at enhancing digital sovereignty without compromising the global internet architecture.

Paul Fehlinger's talk centered on the impact of legal and regulatory fragmentation on the internet. He advocated for innovative governance structures that promote interoperability and protect digital rights, emphasizing the importance of developing technologies that support an open and decentralized internet ecosystem.

Dr. Mirja Kühlewind emphasized the technical aspects of maintaining internet integrity, focusing on the importance of open standards and protocols. She discussed how the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) works to ensure the internet remains a platform for innovation and freedom, cautioning against changes that could lead to a fragmented network.

Tatiana Tropina explored the concept of cybersecurity in the context of internet fragmentation. She argued that while addressing security concerns is crucial, it is equally important to ensure that measures do not inadvertently lead to a divided internet. Ms Tropina highlighted the need for policies that balance security with the preservation of an open, global internet.