Internet Governance: Old issues, new framings, uncertain implications
Title: Internet Governance: Old issues, new framings, uncertain implications
Citation: Eric BROUSSEAU, Meryem MARZOUKI and Cécile MÉADEL (eds), Governance, Regulations and Powers on the Internet, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, 368-397
Series/Number: [Loyola de Palacio Chair]
In the opinion of many actors and commentators, the subject of internet governance tastes like an old wine in a new bottle – to the extent that some consider, for instance, network neutrality to be more a matter of co-regulation than of internet governance (Marsden, 2010). This experience of déjà vu occurs infrequently when we are dealing with network infrastructure and protocols; it is widespread, however, when – as throughout this book – we address the regulation of content (Frydman, 2004; Marzouki, 2008a; Mopas, 2009). Even after granting that the internet is the target and not the means of the governance process, actually delimiting the full scope and complexity of internet governance remains a work in progress – as attested by the efforts to define its contours as an academic research field (DeNardis, 2010a, 2010b). Despite its broad definition by the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG, 2005) mandated during the World Summit on the Information Society, the field remains amorphous. Even the meaning of the term “internet governance” varies according to the background and objectives of those who invoke it. The result is many ambiguities and misunderstandings in defining the field and the issues at stake. The differences pertain to all dimensions of internet governance, as summarized in the following list. The “What?” – narrow or broad object? A first set of ambiguities arises with the definition of what, exactly, should be governed. Some would restrict the field to the management of critical internet resources, meaning infrastructure and protocols or, at the least, domain names (Mueller, 2002; Paré, 2003; DeNardis, 2009). Others view internet governance as embracing any and all types of regulation – including that of content and behavior – provided only that the object of regulation is somehow related to electronic communications (Benedek, Bauer and Kettemann, 2008). The “Why?” – particular or general interest? It is widely agreed that internet governance decisions affect – directly or indirectly, explicitly or implicitly – all current and future end users, which includes individuals, private companies and organizations, and public institutions.
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