The Balkanisation of the Internet

Even the New York Times is catching up with the reality, as evidence by this piece in today’s online edition.

As the Internet grew, it became fragmented and linguistically diversified. It developed borders, across which it now works in different ways.

In Spain, for instance, you can share music and movies with virtual impunity; in France, doing that is likely to cost you your Internet connection.

In China, meanwhile, it may soon be nearly impossible to use Google. The company, saying the security of its e-mail had been breached in a campaign to spy on Chinese dissidents, announced last week that it would stop censoring, its Chinese Web site, and might have to withdraw from China.

No matter what happens in the fight between Google and Beijing’s leaders, one thing seems clear: the company is not going to be able to turn the clock back to 2006. That year, Google itself helped to fracture the Internet by creating