The dream of a perpetual, limitless, non-dimensional space is an idea that has transfixed clergy, philosophers, and poets for ages. Whether it is called “heaven,” “the afterlife,” “nirvana,” or another linguistic stand-in, the dream of a dimension beyond the bounds of time, space, and the laws of nature seems as universal as any concept ever. From its initial development in the 1970s (as a military, academic, and governmental experiment in creating a wholly alternative means of communication capable of surviving catastrophic failures of any parts of the communications conduits) until essentially now, the Internet seemed to be the closest incarnate approximation developed of a dimension beyond the bounds of time, space, and the laws of nature. It is no surprise, therefore, that for almost a quarter of a century, the fear of losing this seemingly limitless and boundless creation has been the primary metaphysical driver of policies and legislation worldwide. In short, for a long time, the governing entities in the world took a “hands-off” approach to regulating this universal construct called “the Internet.” That period of paradisal life for the Internet started to disappear when the People’s Republic of China began perfecting its censorship and regulation of Internet content in the 1990s. The disappearance of paradise accelerated with a key 2014 decision of the European Court of Justice. Any hope of regaining paradise was further sealed away with the European Union’s implementation of the European Union General Data ProtectionRegulation (GDPR) beginning in 2017. The dream and reality of a universal Internet is dead, replaced by what is currently three separate Internets—a European one, a Chinese one, and one for the rest of the universe.
Steven Tapia, Requiem for Cyberspace: The Effect of the European General Privacy Regulation on the Global Internet, 42 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1163 (2019).
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