The worldwide web doesn’t really span the globe anymore


On April 22, Amazon announced that it would, for all practical purposes, shut down operations in China. Many see a significance that goes beyond a business decision by a commercial entity.

According to Axios, it’s “another step in a reorganization of the world into two distinct, digitally driven universes.”

The online world is being “rebordered”, Axios said, using a term employed by Janice Gross Stein, Toronto University political science professor.

Literally, rebordering means throwing up a wall around zones of cyberspace. In the West, the rebordering Ms Stein has said, will take the form of regulation of technology companies. That won’t be to protect consumer privacy, but for national security. Governments and their publics, she says, will increasingly see advanced technology as dual use — both in the service of consumers and national armies. The rebordering is already apparent in the different-strokes’ approach to the rollout of 5G internet and Russia’s stated aim as of March this year, to cut itself off from the global internet as a test.

E-commerce will also be key.

This is the context of Amazon’s announcement regarding China, at least according to Axios. The company will deny itself much of the Chinese market in recognition that the US, China and Russia are moving, to use Axios’s words, “to cordon off cyberspace into their own zones of commercial, military and geopolitical influence.”