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NSFP:            Well...

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This proposition starts with a quote from Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s “Die Physiker” and ties tightly with Proposition 10. In his book, this quote relates to a physicist’s perspective on the probability of keeping one’s dangerous inventions—ultimately an analogy for nuclear fission—from the world. However, it is also highly relevant in terms of the Internet as technology and proposals with certainly good intentions are developed.

Specifically, we claim:

Proposition 12

“Internet sanctions: What once has been thought can never be taken back. The Internet will be falling apart.”

A concrete example: In the wake of the war waged by Russia against Ukraine, members of the Internet community and several politicians called for a multi-stakeholder approach to ‘Internet Sanctions’. In short, the authors of that open letter call for a multistakeholder mechanism that populates databases, which willing Internet participants can utilize to participate in sanctions against specific netblocks and domains, ideally by using existing infrastructure for blocklisting IP routes.

However, this means that due to the tiered nature of the Internet the optionality of this approach is severely limited for network participants relying on upstream providers, as long as enough Tier~1/Tier~2 operators participate. See, for example, the reachability of (Sputnik News) from RIPE Atlas probes after sanctions were applied. We see that the address is unreachable from Europe, but also from the AFRINIC region which regularly transits through Europe. Yet, other global north regions, e.g., the U.S. and Australia, show a significantly higher reachability.

Furthermore, and this is the far more crucial point, this case demonstrates that it is possible to sanction specific IP addresses and networks. In the past approaches against, e.g., or were mostly circumventable DNS based blocking attempts, with the organized chiming of the Internet community that blocking individual sites is not really possible unless a system like a ‘Great National Firewall’ is implemented. The Internet now successfully demonstrated that state sanction blocking of resources is possible.

We claim that policy makers will not forget this, and this approach will find its use in the future again. It will also put Internet sanctions on the diplomatic agenda, and in turn lead to a fragmentation of the Internet: “Well, if you block A, we will block B.” “Well, if you block B, we will just diconnect all of you.” And then they do.