Back in the 1990s, people thought the internet would abolish borders. “Cyberspace does not lie within your [governments’] borders,” wrote author and internet activist John Perry Barlow in 1996. 

The idea of a borderless network has held on. “One of the great things about the internet is that it does not have national borders. When a company in Tokyo sends a digital file to a company in New York, the data does not have to clear customs,” wrote the New York Times in a 2015 op-ed. 

While that may hold for Japan and the US, files going from Beijing to Brussels now often do have to pass digital customs inspections. 

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Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza is TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter. When she isn't obsessing over the rise of distributed ledger technology in China, she helps with editing.