Background on Internet Governance

“Internet Governance” discussions often center around ownership or control of the Internet’s DNS root server, or “the root”. But a broader “Internet governance” debate includes an examination of the laws, policies, technologies, and customs that regulate the way in which we use the Internet. Currently, the United States Department of Commerce “controls” the Internet’s root server through its contractual relations with the California non-profit corporation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). But many in the international community are displeased with a single country maintaining sole control over the Internet’s DNS root server, since the Internet is a shared global resource.

Some developing countries are pushing for Internet governance under the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is multi-national. The US, Europe, and Japan continue to support the Internet management by ICANN. Developing countries are unhappy with ICANN, which is an undemocratic private California corporation that wields enormous power over the governance of the Internet — a part of any nation’s vital infrastructure.

ICANN’s legitimacy has been in doubt since its creation, and its tendency to favor large trademark owners at the expense of Internet users’ rights continues to worry Western consumers and developing countries alike. The inordinate level of influence that the United States Government exercises in ICANN policy making is also of concern to the international community. But even with the general dissatisfaction with ICANN, there is little reason to believe that the ITU would be an improvement and would probably be worse when it comes to protecting freedom of expression values. . . .

Other Internet Governance Resources:

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

Internet Governance Project


United Nations Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

The Public Voice

ICANN Non-Commercial Users Constituency (NCUC)

WSIS Internet Governance Caucus
Internet Democracy Project
Canadian Law Professor Michael Giest Blog

US Attorney Brett Faucett’s Blog on Internet Issues

Brooklyn Law Professor Wendy Seltzer’s Blog

Miami Law Professor Michael Froomkin’s Papers

Karl Auerbach’s CaveBear Blog

Cardozo Law Professor Susan Crawford’s Blog

Internet Governance Project Blog

Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig’s Blog
UN ICT Task Force Home Page

“Beyond Internet Governance: The Emerging International Framework for Governing the Networked World”

By Mary C. Rundle

13 December 2005
Sixth Meeting of the ICT Task Force
Meeting Resources and IP Information
March 2004

Markus Kummer Presentation on UN Working Group on Internet Governance (PDF)
May 2004

Internet Governance: The State of Play (PDF)
By Internet Governance Project – September 9, 2004

Making Sense of Internet Governance: Defining Principles and Norms in Policy Context (PDF)
By Internet Governance Project – April 26, 2004

ITU Workshop: ICANN’s “We Don’t Do Governance” line falls flat
By Dr. Milton Mueller – Februrary 2004

WSIS, Internet Governance and the Role of ICANN (PDF)
By Vinton G. Cerf, Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy for MCI

UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) Home Page

Consultations on the Establishment of the Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG)
Geneva, 20-21 September 2004