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The U.S. government’s proposed ban on Chinese apps like TikTok and WeChat plays into technologists’ fears that the internet utopia is crumbling.
The worry is that instead of a world brought closer together by the internet, a tech fight between the United States and China threatens to further splinter the digital world along country borders.
I share those concerns. But let me explain why a splintered internet isn’t so novel, or necessarily a horrible thing.
First, the internet was never as global or interconnected as the ideal. What we mean when we talk about a unified global internet is a history in which the internet was dominated by America, with U.S. companies and U.S. values infusing the world. The exception was China, which operated a parallel internet world.
For years, foreign governments at times pushed back at the American-tinged internet. They sometimes had understandable reasons….