Alternative Internet(s): Governance by Internet Infrastructure

//Francesca Musiani is a researcher with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), affiliated with the Institute for Communication Sciences(ISCC). In this latest post in our series on alternative internet(s), she looks at the implications of governance by control of internet infrastructure. This article was originally posted on the London School of Economics and Political Science’s Media Policy Project Blog and can be found here.

Perhaps due to the snowball effect of the Snowden revelations, never in history have conflicts over Internet governance attracted such widespread attention of policymakers and the general public. The increasing recognition of the Internet as a basic infrastructure supporting economic and social life has also drawn attention to the underlying institutional and technical systems necessary to keep the Internet operational and secure.  An area once concealed in institutional and technological complexity is now rightly bracketed among other shared global issues – such as environmental protection and human rights – that have considerable global implications but are incongruous with national borders.

The broad ecosystem of institutions, laws, and private ordering that keeps the Internet’s infrastructure operational, as well as the enactment of public policy around this infrastructure, is generally called Internet governance. These administrative and coordinating functions have always been instruments of power because…

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