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The internet, once a freewheeling global network, is becoming balkanized into national spheres of influence. This could be bad for both cross-cultural communication and U.S. tech companies.

China has long protected its local internet, censoring speech behind what has become known as the Great Firewall. The government blocks U.S.-based services such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, and closely monitors the local Chinese versions. Other authoritarian and quasi-authoritarian countries — Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Ethiopia — do the same. And Russia recently passed a so-called sovereign internet law that makes it much easier for the government to monitor and control online content.

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