The Complex Geopolitics of Internet Governance

Julien Nocetti, a Research Fellow at the Paris-based think tank French Institute of Intenational Relations (IFRI), explores the geopolitics of internet governance. This article was originally posted on April 4, 2014 on the Valdai Discussion Club and can be found here.

On March 14th, the U.S. government announced that it would relinquish management and coordination of web addresses through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which is indirectly led by the U.S., to a global business community, public interest groups, academics, and governments. This is likely to open a new chapter in the way the internet is “governed.”

This happened a few days before an ICANN meeting in Singapore and, perhaps more importantly, a month before NETmundial, an international conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil on the future of internet governance.

There were three signs that supervision of the internet was about to evolve towards greater internationalization in coming months.

First, U.S. moral leadership on Internet issues was destroyed by Edward Snowden’s leaks regarding Washington’s large-scale cyber surveillance and its intelligence agencies’ collusion with major internet corporations. These …

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The GovLab Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance: Issue 23

The Selected Curation of Articles on Net-Governance (the SCAN) is a weekly digest on Internet governance news, reports, and events produced by the Governance Lab @NYU (the GovLab) as part of the GovLab’s Living Labs on Smarter Governance project. The SCAN is cross-posted weekly from the GovLab on the Internet Policy Observatory. The original posting of the GovLab SCAN- Issue 23, April 25, 2014 can be found here.

This week’s highlights:

  • The NETmundial Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance took place this week in São Paulo, Brazil. Thousands of different individuals from all over the world contributed to the meeting’s organization and planning; the meeting’s draft outcome documents received 1370 comments online; and 1480 stakeholders from the private, governmental, technical, academic, and civil society communities of 97 nations came together during the meeting, joined by remote participants from 30 remote participation hubs. The meeting produced a non-binding outcome document that is meant to inform all upcoming Internet governance discussions. The next GovLab SCAN will recap the outcomes of NETmundial.
  • The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has proposed new rules that would effectively end “net neutrality” provisions in the U.S. and allow Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to charge extra for some types of traffic. However, there are conditions that such extra charges should be “commercially reasonable” and that behavior harming consumers or competition will be prohibited.
  • Brazil has passed the “Marco Civil” (sometimes called Brazil’s “Internet Constitution”) which protects…

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Finding a Formula for Brazil: Representation and Legitimacy in Internet Governance

The following article is the first of a series of working papers published by the Internet Policy Observatory at CGCS. These working papers explore  global policies of the Internet with a focus on the global south. This article, developed by Milton Mueller from Syracuse University and Ben Wagner from CGCS, looks at the process running up to the Brazilian summit in April 2014, and puts these Internet governance developments into a historical context.

In the summer of 2013, Edward Snowden’s extraordinary leaks about U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance destabilized the foundations of international Internet governance. Speaking at the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2013, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff denounced NSA spying in the strongest terms, and, together with ICANN, started planning conference in Sao Paulo in April 2014 to reinvent Internet governance.

This article analyses these events and tries to make sense of what they might mean for the future of global Internet governance. It begins by looking at how the Brazil-ICANN initiative alters the political alignment of actors in the world. Second, it places these developments into a longer historical context, showing how it echoes recurring attempts to develop legitimacy and principles for Internet governance. Third, it applies…

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