Managing the divergence and convergence of online content and services

Ce projet, financé par le Parlement européen, est porté par le groupe de travail Gouvernance et régulation d’Internet du GDR Internet, IA et Société.

L’étude réalisée a été présentée le 9 juin 2022, au Panel for the Future of Science and Technology du Parlement européen et enregistrée.

Le rapport du projet est disponible en ligne : Clément Perarnaud, Julien Rossi, Francesca Musiani, Lucien Castex, 2022, “‘Splinternets’: Addressing the renewed debate on internet fragmentation”. Report commissioned and published by the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) of the European Parliament. Released 11 July 2022.

EN. This project is a tender of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (former Panel for Science and Technology Options Assessment, STOA) of the European Parliament, and is conducted by several researchers of the Working Group on Internet Governance and Regulation of the GDR Internet, IA et Société : Lucien Castex, Francesca Musiani, Clément Perarnaud and Julien Rossi.

The noun ‘internet’ is most often used in the singular rather than plural form. However, increased customization and restriction of access for both individuals and groups have resulted in substantial divergences in the range of internet content and services that are available – or presented by default – to users. Already a decade ago, these divergences were referred to as the ‘balkanisation’ or ‘splintering’ of the internet along geographical and commercial fault-lines. Here, we use the term ‘splinter net’ to refer to the emerging landscape of distinct and autonomous ‘internets’ that result from such divergences.

These divergences, as well as possible convergence (or new interoperability) of distinct internet spaces, is the core subject of this project. The aim sis to provide an accessible review and explanation of divergence and convergence in internet products and services, including the role of protocols, principles and EU policy, and to develop and examine a range of policy options, in the context of the EU policy agenda.

The project is anticipated to be of particular relevance to debates around the recently proposed Data Governance Act, Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, as well as the recently proposed AI Act. It may also contribute to topical debates about strategic autonomy (in particular digital sovereignty), the EU-US agenda for global change, and net neutrality.