The Open, Universal Internet Is Over

The internet is being nationalised. A French regulator’s recent insistence that a French citizen has a right to have information removed from the totality of cyberspace – according to the right to be forgotten judgment – is just another instance of a general trend toward what China’s president, Xi Jinping, calls “internet sovereignty”. For which read: assertion of control by the nation-state over the once borderless realm.

In some cases, internet sovereignty can mean a state protecting its citizens’ privacy against international corporate surveillance or infiltration by another state. In other cases, it can mean the state ensuring that it can invade the privacy of its citizens whenever and however it likes. The choices made depend on the state, but that of course is the point: it’s the state that decides.

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