The Splinternet

31 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020 Last revised: 11 Feb 2021

Date Written: July 30, 2020


My thesis is that the internet is being Balkanized: that we are returning to walled gardens. Some of those walled gardens are run by private companies, but increasingly, they are being created by drawing national boundaries around the internet. I think this phenomenon is already far along, and there are powerful forces behind it. It extends beyond software; we are increasingly building different hardware networks, and may ultimately end up with entirely separate Internets. The Balkanization of the internet is a bad thing and that we should stop it if we can. I offer some ideas that might help.

Suggested Citation

Lemley, Mark A., The Splinternet (July 30, 2020). Stanford Law and Economics Olin Working Paper #555, Available at SSRN: or

Mark A. Lemley (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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