(Chris Devlin) #1

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FORTUNE.COM // JUNE .1 .19


WHERE THE


SPLINTERNET


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TECH


“ THE NET INTERPRETS censorship as damage and
routes around it,” said Internet pioneer John
Gilmore in a 1993 Time magazine article about a
then-ungoverned place called “cyberspace.” How times
have changed.
In April, Sri Lankan authorities blocked its citizens’
access to social media sites like Facebook and YouTube
following a major terrorist attack. Such censorship,
once considered all but inconceivable, is now com-
monplace in a growing number of countries.
Russia, for instance, approved an “Internet sover-
eignty” law in May that gives the government broad
power to dictate what its citizens can see online.
And China is not just perfecting its “Great Firewall,”
which blocks such things as searches for “Tiananmen
Square” and the New York Times, but is seeking to
export its top-down version of the web to countries

Countries are increasingly censoring
the Internet, creating a balkanized
version that puts U.S. tech companies in
a difficult position. By Jeff John Roberts

ILLUSTRATION BY NICHOLAS LITTLE