The Internet is creating Net-States

A nation-state is a geopolitical entity with the cultural entity of a nation, from which it aims to derive its political legitimacy to rule. A few key features of the nation-state are: 

  • A Sovereign Government
  • Exclusive/Semi-exclusive Citizenship
  • Territorial Integrity or Territorial Impermeability
  • Nationalism as the core Philosophy

The Web and Internet are two of the most significant technologies that are currently shaping our world. The increased Internet penetration and cheap access has spawned a whole lot of very popular web based services: search and advertising services like those offered by Google, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; video stores like YouTube and others. 

An individual generates tremendous amount of data pertaining to his or her activities throughout the day, using these services. This data acts as a user’s identity or a “Data Double” on the Web with the service provider often being considered as the guarantor of the authenticity of the user. Our profiles at Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Uber are such identities. And they are trusted albeit only to a certain extent. 

Also each of these Web Giants have their own governance style, characterised by their rules and regulations which are determined by both policy and the algorithms that run these platforms. Adding to that, the web is increasingly encouraging more cross-border exchanges of goods and services, allowing users and firms to bypass national borders. 

These phenomena raises the question of: Are these Web Giants a different kind of nation-state themselves? Is the Internet helping shape Net-States? To answer these questions, we use the theory of sociomateriality. 

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