Internet Fragmentation > Nepal’s National Internet Gateway

Borders Are a Fundamental Threat to the Global Internet

Region: Asia-Pacific
Threat type: National Internet Gateways
Last updated: 1 December 2023

Nepal has a lot to gain from the open, global Internet. So why is the country closing the doors on it?

Nepal approved its National Cybersecurity Policy in 2023. It contains a provision to establish a government-owned intranet and a National Internet Gateway.

The policy does not offer a definition, or any further information about the plans, but a national Internet gateway is already a cause for serious concern.

A national Internet gateway is a government-mandated gateway through which all Internet traffic is routed. It centralizes governmental control over all local and international Internet traffic–both incoming and outgoing. This gives the government considerable power over traffic management and what Nepal’s citizens can access online. This will also create a rigid network hierarchy that cannot scale in the way the distributed Internet can.

If this plan is implemented, this would mean that networks must connect to government-mandated locations, increasing the technical and financial barriers that network operators face in becoming part of the global Internet.

Since no other networks in the country can access the global Internet directly or independently, this will severely impact a network’s global reach and limit collaboration between Nepal and the rest of the world by establishing barriers across the Internet ecosystem. The result is likely to be a significant degradation of network performance and increase in costs. In all likelihood, these costs will ultimately be passed on to Internet users.

Having designated providers run the gateway that funnels all Internet traffic in and out of the country while maintaining a few locations as local exchanges creates a rigid hierarchical network structure that scales less efficiently than the distributed network that is the Internet. The approach severely impacts networks’ global reach, limits collaborative internetworking, and thus has a negative effect on the open Internet.

This policy will significantly weaken the ability of anyone in the country to preserve the confidentiality and integrity of their communications, for instance, by weakening or breaking encryption. National Internet gateway operators handle traffic records that may contain personal data. With few existing safeguards for data privacy, the collection and storage of the information could reduce users’ ability to control how this information is used and shared by whom and for how long, potentially impacting people’s freedom of expression.

National Internet gateways are typically tasked with interception or inspection of content, so that targeted content can be acted on, for instance, by throttling, filtering, or blocking. This would centralize government control over questions of access and online content, and create a threat of censorship and self-censorship for fear of government surveillance and potential repercussions.


Nepal approved its National Cybersecurity Policy in 2023, which contains a clause to establish a national Internet gateway. However, the policy does not define or further elaborate on the government’s plans with regard to its implementation. Cambodia has considered a similar measure.

Our Position

The Internet Society has conducted an impact assessment.  We concluded that a national Internet gateway is harmful for the Internet, users, and local and international businesses. Any time a policy around a national gateway is under discussion, even if it is not implemented, it also increases the risk that a similar measure could be adopted by other countries. This causes a grave increase in the risk of fragmentation.

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Talking Points

  • A national Internet gateway means that all Internet traffic passes through a government-mandated gateway. The government can filter, block, or throttle content, and see who is sending what, and where. This centralizes control over Internet traffic, which undermines a core principle of how the Internet works.
  • With a national Internet gateway, networks will need to connect to government-mandated locations, which increases the technical and financial barriers for network operators who want to be part of the global Internet.
  • These mandated connections and their technical requirements are likely to lead to worse network quality, and those costs are likely to be passed on to the customers. It means you get less Internet, on a worse connection, for more money.
  • The ability of a government to inspect content, weaken or break encryption, and connect that content to individual users is a serious threat to privacy and security. It can lead to censorship and self-censorship, and especially harms marginalized communities and users.