Issue 9: A Fractured Internet

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 8.46.30 PM.png

Welcome to Backstory, a weekly newsletter turning global technology shifts into a three-minute read. This week we're thinking about how the internet is splitting into competing platforms. This shift is going to make policy considerations all the more difficult. – Joseph Dana, Senior Editor


A Fractured Internet


Attitudes towards data and the internet are cultural phenomena, shaped by social, corporate, and government narratives. As a result, the internet is fracturing before our eyes. There is one version led by the United States and Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Facebook. There is another led by China and its massive companies like Alibaba and Tencent.

Trade tensions: As a trade war between the US and China heats up, the depth of differences between the world’s leading internets are coming into sharp focus. As a result of the US ban on Huawei products, the popular Chinese smartphone maker won’t have access to many of Google’s core services on their Android-powered smartphones. This dramatic move, announced this week, will force Chinese companies to pursue technological independence.

A happy medium? When it comes to data regulation, the fracturedinternet is hindering global efforts to protect consumers, enable smart regulations, and drive innovation. As tensions continue to flare, consumers everywhere stand to lose the most. Blending aspects of the Chinese and American internet could radically transform data regulation, smart governance, and user options for the better.


“E-governance is easy governance, effective governance, and also economic governance. E-governance paves the way for good governance"

Valerie Cliff, Deputy Regional Director, UNDP in Asia and the Pacific.



Women in the 4IR: The Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s here and it’s transforming the future of work. The coming transformation of labour could improve the position of women in the workplace. If we start a conversation about the role of gender in 4IR today, we can lay the groundwork for a more equitable future tomorrow. Mary Ames explores the issues at play this week. She argues that we must realise the invaluable perspectives women can bring to designing and regulating the future to explore the full potential of 4IR.



Golden ticket: Here's a question you probably hear a lot: How do you build a knowledge economy? The first place to start is with people, and the UAE took a major step in bolstering its knowledge economy this week. HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced that investors and entrepreneurs who meet certain criteria will be granted permanent residency in the country. The new programme has already been rolled out with close to 7,000 people receiving the new status. With a special target for exceptional workers in the fields of health, engineering, science and art, this announcement is sure to bolster the UAE’s growing knowledge ecosystem.

Would you share that? Long gone are the days when all-camp Capture the Flag was the pinnacle of summer camp. Today’s camps compete on educational enrichment, and now a new camp in Los Angeles offersreal life skills for kids in the internet age. iD Tech Camps offers a YouTube camp for kids aged 10-17. For $1,000, children at the week-long camp learn everything it takes to make it on the video platform. Gone are the days of hotdogs and water sports.  


Like what you're reading?