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Will the Internet Fragment?: Sovereignty, Globalization and Cyberspace



Will the Internet Fragment?: Sovereignty, Globalization and Cyberspace

Milton Mueller

ISBN: 978-1-509-50122-9 June 2017 Polity 140 Pages


The Internet has united the world as never before. But is it in danger of breaking apart? Cybersecurity, geopolitical tensions, and calls for data sovereignty have made many believe that the Internet is fragmenting.

In this incisive new book, Milton Mueller argues that the “fragmentation” diagnosis misses the mark. The rhetoric of “fragmentation” camouflages the real issue: the attempt by governments to align information flows with their jurisdictional boundaries. The fragmentation debate is really a power struggle over the future of national sovereignty. It pits global governance and open access against the traditional territorial institutions of government. This conflict, the book argues, can only be resolved through radical institutional innovations.

Will the Internet Fragment? is essential reading for students and scholars of media and communications, international relations, political science and STS, as well as anyone concerned about the quality of Internet governance.

1. Coming Undone?

2. A Taxonomy of ‘Fragmentation’

3. The Illusion of Technical Fragmentation

4. Alignment: Cyberspace Meets Sovereignty

5. Confronting Alignment

6. Popular Sovereignty in Cyberspace




“In characteristically rigorous fashion, Mueller's outstanding book punctures the alarmist myth of Internet fragmentation and helps us to understand what is really at stake as nations and other groups vie for power over the Internet.”
Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School

“There have been political and economic interests to 'Balkanize' the Internet as we know it for a quarter of a century. Mueller's razor-sharp arguments help us to understand the dimension of the challenge.”
Wolfgang Kleinwächter, University of Aarhus