Internet localization: Good or bad?

18.07.2019

The second day of the Asia Pacific Region Internet Governance Forum included 10 sessions where issues related to cybersecurity, the further development of the internet, protection of children and human rights online, linguistic diversity on the internet, and the digital government’s capacities were discussed.

The session Localized Internet: Two Sides of a Coin was dedicated to the technical aspects of possible internet localization. This topic is regularly discussed at Russian internet conferences and traffic localization is in focus today. The forum participants, representing various Asian-Pacific countries, discussed how establishing borders on the internet would affect internet governance and telecommunications.

Pavel Khramtsov (MSK-IX) spoke about how a company can provide reliable access to content for final users and how problems related to internet localization and information cohesiveness are solved. He said that when looking into data on .RU and .РФ it was clear that a large amount of Russian user traffic was local, so if the Russian internet is localized they would hardly note anything.

“However, we must not forget that if there were no connection to the global internet, websites will soon begin to decline, this is why we are only talking about a short-term solution for emergencies only. Full integrity is critical for the network, and localization should not last long,” Khramtsov said.

During the lively discussion, the opinion was voiced that the content localization problem was not technical but political, and that this is how it must be regarded. “Internet is about opportunities above all,” said another representative of Russia, Alexander Isavnin (Internet Protection Society). He believes borders on the internet would limit people’s opportunities, which means they would result in less openness and accessibility to the internet.

However, if the problem in Russia is related to the security and reliability of the Russian internet as well as a willingness to support operational internet in the country during problems with the global internet, on a global scale, localization is above all related to traffic distribution via CDN (Content Delivery Network), according to Paul Wilson (APNIC). Traffic is consolidated via content delivery networks, which affects the content distribution economy, and transit operators are at a loss. In addition, changes in the content distribution economy have implications for internet governance, which, in particular, affects the network’s coherence and openness.

In addition, session participants noted the growing interest in governing international data flows and even national governments' control of this data. All of this may become a problem for the further development of the multi-stakeholder internet governance model and could result in network fragmentation.

However, there are positive implications for internet localization such as the development of the local hosting and local internet providers as well as expanding data processing centers. Nevertheless, the global community has to find a solution soon so the internet localization trend does not result in technical and social issues and so the internet can remain universal, open and accessible for everyone.

It was noted that the internet localization issue is important for the entire internet community and will be discussed at the meetings of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be held in Berlin.

APrIGF 2019 will continue its work tomorrow. Please follow our posts.

Direct streaming can be found at https://aprigf.ru/