Internet balkanization: why are we raising borders online?

Thursday 4 October 16:00 - 16:30, Red room

Stefan Tanase (Ixia)



Less than three decades after the Berlin Wall collapsed and ended an era of division between the East and the West, the world seems on the brink of making the same mistakes all over again, only this time in cyberspace. Walls and borders not only promote segregation, but have a negative impact on economy, creativity and technology, slowing down progress on every level.

Nowadays, walls are not just being raised in the real world, but on the internet as well. Countries want to isolate themselves and shut down the information they are not comfortable with, or the companies they don't want to do business with.

The 'Great Firewall of China', which blocks access to websites considered dangerous by the Chinese government, is not an isolated phenomenon – it was the domino which set a trend in motion. In the last decades, more and more countries and organizations have taken to following this Internet censorship and digital mass-surveillance trend.

Many times, the people who are affected are journalists or activists who are just trying to do their job. As surveillance technologies are rapidly becoming more sophisticated and the internet is becoming more fragmented, we are still trying to grasp the real-life consequences of digital balkanization - a double-edged sword which is insufficiently debated.

Just as doctors on the battelfield have sworn to protect soldiers and civilians no matter which side of the border they are, security researchers do the same in cyber-space – being neutral in the face of threats against security and privacy.

Freedom of expression and unrestricted access to the internet should be non-negotiable. They are basic human rights which we all should fight for. It's time to ponder seriously the implications of mass-surveillance, censorship and internet balkanization. We have to decide now what kind of internet we want our kids to use - a free internet, or one in which everything you say or do is monitored?

 

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Stefan Tanase

Stefan is an experienced security researcher based in Bucharest, Romania. Having spent the last 10 years of his career combating the world's most sophisticated cyber threats, Stefan joined Ixia in 2017 as a principal security researcher. Through innovative research projects and effective public speaking engagements, he actively contributes to keeping Internet users safe. While Stefan specializes in collecting threat intelligence and monitoring the cybercrime ecosystem, he has a real passion for digital rights and Internet privacy.

@stefant

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