How important is it to maintain one Internet?

FADI CHEHADE: We have benefited enormously from the fact that the Internet is one Internet for the world. The fear and the danger as well as the impact of fragmenting the Internet into multiple Internets is very, very high on the minds of many people; users, decision makers, government, as well as business. If the Internet crust is fragmented, I think we will see a significant impact on economies. A study by the Boston Consulting Group showed that increasing these frictions that would fragment the Internet could actually cost the world more than 2.5 points of GDP.

These are serious numbers and we should maintain our commitment, all of us, that despite differences in values or principles that we should find the common ground that allows us to maintain one Internet for the world. With one route zone, and one set of numbers. The unique identifiers that are coordinated by my organization ICANN are critical to maintain the single Internet. And in the last year, we have seen major economies come forward and support the oneness of the Internet.

Brazil hosted a big conference in Sao Paolo and announced that one Internet is critical and supported the work of ICANN. The Chinese government, in London recently announced a very important message of one Internet for the world. And most recently also the Indian government announced that as well. These are important geopolitical messages that are coming through to support one Internet for the world.

Where are the pressures to fragment the Internet coming from?

FADI CHEHADE: There are pressures to fragment the Internet that come from those who believe that the Internet should become walled gardens that have certain rules around certain societies. And therefore the solution to that is to break up the layer that is coordinated by ICANN to ensure a single Internet. So that maybe you could be in one part of the world and type and go to a machine, whilst still another part of the world you'd go to a different machine. This way there is, essentially that's what would be called the fragmentation of the layer of the Internet. And I think these pressures are serious and they are concerning.

However, the way to counter them and to mitigate them is to ensure that the management of the layer that makes the Internet one is kept independent without the influence of control of one government or one entity or some special interests and to ensure that all parties have an equal participation in the policies and the operation of that layer. And that's what ICANN strives to do.

Is the pressure to fragment coming more from corporate or sovereign entities?

FADI CHEHADE: It is sovereign for sure. Although we're seeing some of the corporate pressures rise as well, because companies are going to major cloud providers and saying can we have a private cloud and get off the Internet. And this is driven by security. So it's actually both. But of course the pronounced ones are sovereign. Although this is pretty serious. But we're seeing a bit of subsidization on that a little bit right now. But it could come back. So, it's fascinating.