Washington’s so-called “Clean Network” program will “bolster a worrying movement” toward the split of the global Internet, said a recent BBC article.

“The US government has for a long time criticized other countries for controlling access to the Internet … and now we see the Americans doing the same thing,” the article quoted Alan Woodward, a computer security expert at the University of Surrey in Britain, as saying.

“It’s shocking,” said Woodward, adding, “this is the Balkanization of the Internet happening in front of our eyes.”

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the launch of five new lines of effort under the program to “protect America’s critical telecommunications and technology infrastructure.”

According to the five lines, Washington will seek to remove “untrusted” Chinese apps such as TikTok and WeChat from US mobile app stores, limit the ability of Chinese cloud service providers like Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent to access cloud-based systems in the country, and ensure undersea cables “are not subverted for intelligence gathering” by China.

“It’s hard not to view this through the prism of the US elections in November,” said the article titled “Is the US about to split the Internet?”

To the White House, removing “untrusted” Chinese apps actually means removing all Chinese apps, it said.

Such a vision of the US Internet “in the main free of China” will only make it “a far more divided place,” it added.