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Techno-nationalism is shaping the future of your internet

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In September 1987, a laboratory in China sent an email to a German university—the first-ever email the world received from the Communist country. It read: “Across the Great Wall, we can reach every corner of the world.”

That same month, 33 years later, two Chinese-developed apps, WeChat and TikTok, faced the prospect of being shut out of the US, as the White House threatened to issue the country’s first ban on foreign platforms. Also this year, India banned Chinese apps and is mulling a national alternative to the Google and Apple app stores, while Facebook warned Europe that its onerous data privacy rules could prompt the social network to withdraw from the region.

We’re a long way from the early ambition and optimism of a truly global and open internet.

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