Can Nations Actually Collaborate for Growth in the Digital Economy?

Tim Berners-Lee didn’t think small. When he developed the protocols to access information on remote computers, Lee termed this system the “World Wide Web.” And it wasn’t very long after that that cyber-libertarians like Electronic Freedom Foundation founder John Perry Barlow predicted a new utopian world without borders and states, at least in “cyberspace.”

It hasn’t quite worked out that way, to say the least. Sovereign governments, whose job is to represent the interests of their citizens, not the world’s, rightly assert that they have jurisdiction over cyberspace, at least to the extent it plays out within their borders.

But as Rob Atkinson writes in Connect-World: Global, the problem is that this proper rejection of the cyber-libertarian fantasy has turned into digital balkanization, with an increasing number of nations not just erecting barriers to the global operation of the Internet, including restricting data cross border flows, but actively seeking to impose their Internet policy rules on other nations.