The Balkanization of the Internet

Washington, DC, May 14th, 2008 -- There is a growing debate over a widely held belief that the only way to preserve the integrity of US companies and government agencies connected to the Internet, is to create a controlled national network connected, yet separate to the global Internet. This is popularly known as the "Balkanization" of the Internet. Using the term "Balkanization" from the splitting up of Yugoslavia into the many small Balkan States few can pronounce. This solution to emerging national, and regional threats was the subject of a piece I wrote back in 1997, after a series of exchanges, and later meetings with the Chinese Ambassador at the United Nations. As History repeats Itself I repeat the piece from ten years ago, and although the circumstances have changed somewhat it is interesting that the Chinese foresaw the threats, and filtered the content available to their citizens. Maybe at the same time they realized the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the rest of the world.

Balkanization of the Internet

by Alan Simpson

On my visits to speak at the United Nations, on global communications, security, and ecommerce I am beginning to get concerned about a number of trends.

One cause for concern, ignored by most, is the trend towards creating a number of Internet Regions, the "Balkanization" of the global network.

To be specific, and accurate, the global network, of networks.

This aspect of the structure of the Internet is ignored as well, by those who claim, that the Internet cannot be controlled, policed, taxed, or disconnected. That was true for the original US network, within certain limits, but countries have the resources to pull the plug, if and when it suits them.

They also have the capability to create barriers to free exchange of information, and to monitor traffic, even individual habits, and emails.

This should be of serious concern to everyone where the Internet is an integral part of their business, and communication network. No more serious a scenario, is one involving financial transactions. Many major corporation have evolved to rely on the Internet for transactions. They rely on simple, in the context of Government Intelligence Agencies, cryptography. many countries demand their Intelligence Agencies have the resources to easily monitor communications,. They need to monitor all Internet traffic, to track Drug Dealers, and Pedophiles. Pure BS!

The multi-million dollar resources have not caught one Drug Dealer, or broken one Pedophile Ring.

They are creating a pool where all the fish are recognized, and tracked. Where if the government of the day is displeased with a communication, it can delay, block, or copy the contents, for it's own action.

I personally do not care if the US Treasury wants to monitor my emails, and financial transactions. If they wanted to, tell them to call round, and I will run through the accounts with them. But then again, I am not moving millions around, into funds, stocks, investments and projects. I make everything so simple, even an FBI man could understand it.

But if I wanted to mount a take over bid, for a poster child of a foreign government, imagine my frustration, and anger if my bids kept getting bounced back, until it was too late. "Sorry Sir, bids are closed. We never got one from you!"

In a presentation to the UN in 1997, I politely chided the Minister from an African country, who extolling the virtues of the Internet wanted millions of dollars of US aid, to put the Internet into every school, and village. My  rationale was that he would not accept a free Internet, because of

  1. Content
  2. Control
  3. Revenue

He agreed with me, citing Pornography, American control, and loss of revenue from the telephone company. He said though, that he still would accept a gift of several thousand computers.

The Chinese Ambassador spoke up on hearing my statement, saying that is what China had done, and for those reasons.

These trends do not bode well for the business plans of New York Investment Companies. If any lowly cipher clerk can decode, or read a multi-billion dollar bid for a corporation, how long will it be before that information is sold for profit.

We are tracking global trends. Make sure you are.

 

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