Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation

upcoming activities

PNIF Webinar 'What does Internet Fragmentation mean to you?'  Wednesday 19 October (tbc), 1300-1500 UTC  - meeting info

PNIF Survey - share your views !

About the Policy Network Internet Fragmentation

The Policy Network on Internet Fragmentation (PNIF) aims to offer a systematic and comprehensive framework, complemented by case studies, that defines Internet fragmentation, its causes, and its potential effects and it aims to establish recommendations or codes of conduct that prevent fragmentation. 

The PNIF proposal was born out of a community initiative launched by a multistakeholder coalition of civil society, business and technical community organizations in

2021 to raise awareness of the technical, policy, legal and regulatory measures and actions that pose a risk to the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet. 

The objective of this policy network would be to:

  • Offer a systematic and comprehensive framework to define Internet fragmentation, its intended and unintended causes, and its potential effects
  • Collect and analyze case studies to fine-tune and complement this framework
  • Establish shared principles, recommendations or codes of conduct that prevent fragmentation and preserve the open, interconnected and interoperable nature of the Internet 

About the issue

In recent years, technical, legislative and policy developments have furthered the risk that the Internet fragments into siloed parts. These developments include bans or restrictions on international data flows, interference with free expression, privacy, and/or encryption; and Internet shutdowns. These developments pose a threat to the open, interconnected and interoperable Internet, along with its associated benefits to social and economic development, while also harming human rights. Internet fragmentation can take place at various segments and functions of the Internet, any of which can prevent an open, interconnected and interoperable Internet. Therefore, we propose a three-layered framework through which to analyze actions and measures that can contribute to fragmentation in order to gain a holistic view of the issue and identify potential solutions:

  • Technical / backbone layer: whereby conditions in the underlying technical infrastructure impede the ability of systems to fully interoperate;
  • Network / access layer: whereby conditions at the physical, network, transport layers prevent proper functioning of the Internet and/or hinder meaningful connectivity;
  • Application / content layer: whereby policies and actions constrain or prevent certain uses of the Internet to create, distribute or access information. 

The community engagement will continue to happen over a dedicated mailing list. All interested stakeholders are most welcome to subscribe through this link.




PNIF Webinar  - 

What does Internet fragementation mean to you ?  Identifying fragmentation and key stakeholders.

[draft agenda]

  1. Welcome and PNIF introduction
  2. Avoiding fragmentation of the Internet is one of the complex digital issues the UN Secretary-General recommends addressing in the Global Digital Compact.
    1. Question 1: there are different approaches to defining and classifying fragmentation.  For policy makers it is important to understand concrete concerns.
      1. What are concrete examples where technical, commercial or policy measures lead to fragmentation of the Internet?
      2. Why are these examples of concern? How does this measure or practice lead to fragmentation (i.e. what layer does it affect)? How does this impact people’s experience with the Internet? What are further-reaching impacts, e.g. on society?
    2. Question 2: Which parts or layers of the Internet are facing the greatest threat?
    3. Question 3:  What kind of response is needed from policymakers and other stakeholders.
      1. Who should be doing what ? What are the possible actions required of different stakeholders ( Governments, Private sector, Technical community, Academia, Civil Society, International Treaty Organisations)
      2. What kind of guiding principles are needed?
  3. Wrap up and next steps
    1. Follow-up call:  Avoiding fragmentation of the internet: concrete actions, best practices and principles.

Discussants: Allie Funk, Anriette Esterhuysen, Carolina Hippolito vor der Weid, Farzaneh Badii, Kevin Kohler, Konstantinos Komaitis.

[call details]

IGF Policy Network Internet Fragmentation - Sep 15, 2022 01:00 PM Universal Time UTC - [Zoom link will be published 60 mins before the call ].

Survey  -  what does internet fragmentation mean to you?

The purpose of the survey is to understand, within the community, the different views of what internet fragmentation is, how it is manifesting and what existing work on understanding this phenomenon exists.

Please find the survey here:

The results of the survey will feed into a series of discussion calls we are planning for this Policy Network in the months of September and October, each which will look at the topic of internet fragmentation and also into the PNIF's report to the IGF this year.

We kindly ask you to provide your views by 12 September. 

PNIF Activities

Subscribe to the PNIF mailing list 

  • All interested stakeholders are most welcome to subscribe through this link.

Join the Policy Network Internet Fragmentation meetings

  • UPCOMING PNIF Webinar, Thursday 15 September, 13:00 UTC, meeting info
  • PNIF Webinar 2, Wednesday 19 October (date to be confirmed), 13:00 UTC, meeting info


  • PNIF Introduction, Thursday 16 June, 13:00 UTC - slide deck  - recording - Access Passcode: YY2q^z=*  
webpage of the Policy Network Multistakeholder Working Group of experts