Mapping the Internet Terrain

Alexander Klimburg (Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School), Philipp Mirtl (Affiliated Researcher, Austrian Institute for International Affairs), and Snezana Gjorgieva (PhD Candidate, University of Vienna) examines the ongoing power shifts between state and non-state actors in Internet governance, presenting some research notes on the multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance. This paper is part of CGCS’s Internet Policy Observatory (IPO).

The rise of the Internet has had a marked effect on how we view political power.[1] Around the turn of the millennium, the nation-state as a political factor seemed to be in retreat, and was described as being “under siege”.[2] Giving individuals instant and affordable access to vast amounts of information, the Internet “has collapsed the world, transcending and blurring political boundaries.”[3] As everyday lives have been perceived as being significantly transformed by the Internet, so, too, were traditional concepts of territoriality and state sovereignty. It was even claimed that “[t]he new technologies encourage noninstitutional, shifting networks over the fixed bureaucratic hierarchies that are the hallmark of the single-voiced sovereign state.”[4]

However, while there is no doubt “that significant deterritorialisation has taken place in human affairs, territory remains a crucial factor for many key aspects of humankind’s social, economic and especially political structures.”[5] In our near future, the pre-eminence of the state will thus…

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NETmundial: Is there a new guard of civil society coming to the internet governance fore?

This article is part of a series of posts by Stefania Milan who is attending the NETmundial Global Multistakeholder meeting on the Future of Internet Governance.

NETmundial and the surveillance debate spurred by the Snowden revelations have brought new civil society actors, namely the tech activism community, to the internet governance arena. For the last decade, the civil society segment engaged in internet governance included exclusively non-governmental organizations and academics who have been willing to play by the rules of the game and recognize the legitimacy of the multistakeholder process. At NETmundial, it is now apparent that there is a group of emerging policy-skeptical voices critical of the internet governance status quo and the multistakeholderism model. This new group of actors may contribute to the reshaping of known internal equilibriums within the civil society realm. While it is too early to predict whether these new entries and alliances are there to stay, the tech activism community’s engagement can contribute to increase civil society’s grassrootedness, legitimacy, and accountability. The Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance, also known as NETmundial, is taking…

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African Internet Policy and Media Law Roundup

Welcome to the first African Internet Policy and Media Law Roundup compiled by Ephraim Percy Kenyanito.  This edition of the roundup explores notable events affecting, or affected by, African internet policies from January through April 2014.


Zambia: On January 1, 2014, Miles Sampa, Zambia’s Junior Minister of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, declared war on the Zambian Watchdog, an independent media website which published photos that point to Sampa’s alleged extramarital affair. The Minister then decided to offer $2000 USD to anyone who could reveal the identity of the people behind the website.

Somalia: The extremist Somali militia Al-Shabab issued an ultimatum to Somalia’s internet service providers on January 8, 2014. On January 11, 2014, the Somali Minister of Interior and National Security downplayed the threats and urged the upholding of the right to free expression enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Somalia: On January 12, 2014, telcos operating in Al-Shabab controlled areas caved in to pressure from Al-Shabab, an extremist militia group, and shut down internet access. It is speculated that Al-Shabab was pressuring the telcos to shut down the internet in order to prevent the government from  tracking down to extremist group.

Sudan: On January 14, 2014, Tech President, released a report which showed that US Sanctions against Sudan are preventing Sudanese citizens, including civil society organizations, from protecting themselves against…

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