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Unveiling the Impact of Internet Censorship on Architecture and Routing Patterns

Core Concepts
The author explores the impact of nation states' content control efforts on internet architecture, highlighting a funnelling effect in countries with higher censorship levels.
The study delves into the relationship between geopolitics and network structure, revealing constraints on internet routing due to censorship. Key findings include trends in AS connectivity, eigencentrality analysis, and the identification of a funnelling effect in countries with high censorship levels. The research also indicates increasing geopolitical fragmentation over time. Key points: Study focuses on analyzing the impact of content control efforts by nation states on internet architecture. Methodology involves capturing internet topology data with increased completeness. Analysis includes metrics like AS degree, eigencentrality, and funnelling effect to understand architectural trends. Case studies highlight connectivity patterns in countries like the UK, Iran, India, and Russia. Ethical considerations are addressed as data is sourced from publicly available datasets. Conclusion emphasizes the novel approach to identifying geopolitical restrictions in internet architecture.
"We capture the state of the BGP routing table at 00:00 (UTC) on 1 June 2023." "For each hop, a higher value is indicative of some aspect of funnelling." "Our data shows a 251% increase in observed ASes between 2005 and 2020."
"We undertake a study of Internet architecture, capturing the state of Internet topology with greater completeness than existing state-of-the-art." "Our work provides a deeper understanding of how these censorship measures impact the overall functioning and dynamics of the Internet."

Key Insights Distilled From

by Joshua Levet... at 03-01-2024
Unveiling Internet Censorship

Deeper Inquiries

How do geopolitical tensions influence internet architecture beyond censorship?

Geopolitical tensions can have a significant impact on internet architecture beyond just censorship. One key aspect is the physical infrastructure of the internet, such as undersea cables and data centers. Geopolitical tensions can lead to disruptions in these critical components, affecting connectivity and routing paths. For example, conflicts between nations may result in damage to undersea cables or restrictions on data flow across borders. Moreover, geopolitical tensions can influence the development of regional internets or "splinternet," where countries create their own separate networks with restricted access to outside information. This fragmentation can lead to isolated pockets of connectivity within regions, impacting global communication and collaboration. Additionally, geopolitics plays a role in shaping regulations and policies related to cybersecurity and data privacy. Different countries have varying laws regarding data protection and surveillance, which can affect how companies operate globally and store user data. In essence, geopolitical tensions shape not only the accessibility of information but also the physical infrastructure, regulatory environment, and overall structure of the internet at a global scale.

How counterarguments exist against the identified funnelling effect in countries with high censorship levels?

While the funnelling effect observed in countries with high censorship levels suggests a constraining impact on internet routing due to state control measures, there are counterarguments that challenge this interpretation: Economic Factors: Some argue that economic interests play a more significant role than censorship in determining routing patterns. Companies may prioritize efficient routes for cost-saving purposes rather than complying with government restrictions. Technical Limitations: The complexity of global network interconnections means that routing decisions are influenced by multiple factors beyond censorship efforts alone. Network congestion, technical failures, or optimization strategies could also contribute to funneling effects. Regional Connectivity: Countries with limited international connectivity may naturally exhibit funneling effects due to geographical constraints rather than intentional censorship efforts. Remote locations or lack of infrastructure could limit diverse routing options. Diverse Stakeholders: Internet architecture involves various stakeholders like ISPs, content providers, and transit networks whose decisions collectively shape routing patterns. Censorship measures by one entity may be circumvented through alternative pathways established by other stakeholders. 5..Political Strategy: In some cases where governments impose strict controls over internet traffic flow for political reasons (e.g., national security), funneling effects might be strategic rather than solely driven by censorship intentions.

How can increasing geopolitical fragmentation impact global internet connectivity?

Increasing geopolitical fragmentation poses several challenges that can significantly impact global internet connectivity: 1..Fragmented Infrastructure: Geopolitical disputes often result in fragmented physical infrastructure such as disrupted undersea cables or localized server hosting requirements based on jurisdictional boundaries. 2..Regulatory Barriers: Divergent regulatory frameworks across regions hinder seamless cross-border data flows leading to compliance challenges for multinational corporations operating globally. 3..Data Localization: Data localization laws requiring storage of user data within national borders restrict cloud service providers' ability to deliver consistent services worldwide. 4..Cybersecurity Concerns: Heightened geopolitical tensions increase cyber threats targeting critical infrastructures leading to potential disruptions in services causing cascading impacts on global connectivity. 5..Digital Sovereignty: Nations asserting digital sovereignty seek greater control over online activities within their territories potentially resulting in segmented internets limiting access from outside sources. 6..Trade Restrictions: Trade embargoes imposed between nations could extend into cyberspace restricting technology transfers essential for maintaining robust network connections globally 7...Overall Impact: Collectively these factors contribute towards balkanization creating siloed digital ecosystems hindering open exchange fostering innovation stifling progress towards an interconnected digital world.