Internet Governance: Definitions, Issues, and Challenges

Internet Governance: Definitions, Issues, and Challenges

Lauren Movius (University of Southern California, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch027
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Abstract

As the Internet has spread globally, and its economic, political, and cultural influences have increased, it is necessary to develop appropriate policy to govern it, in order to manage and protect it’s presence in our lives. While national governments apply their laws on the Internet, the Internet presents many issues that span national jurisdictions, and therefore requires global governance. Early Internet governance was self-regulatory and involved organizations and a community of users that made decisions through rough consensus. ICANN and the technical issue of domain name and addressing began debates over the issue of Internet governance. Larger issues of Internet governance emerged during the World Summit on the Information Society, whose existence illustrates the shift towards accepting the need for a global, more formal framework of governance. This chapter explores Internet governance and covers the following themes: understanding the challenge of governing the Internet; frameworks and definitions of Internet governance; and the evolution of the Internet governance debate. As there is much disagreement about what Internet governance is, this chapter synthesizes the main issues and debates and provides an overview of Internet governance.
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Introduction

The Internet has revolutionized many sectors of our societies and indeed the very fabric of human communication. The Internet is the most important infrastructure of the information age, influencing politics, economics and culture. As of June 2009, there were 1.7 billion Internet users worldwide (International Telecommunication Union, 2009; see figure 1 and table 1). As the Internet has spread globally, and its economic, political, and cultural influences have increased, it is necessary to develop appropriate policy to govern the Internet. Governance of media and communications has always been of interest to governments, both internationally and nationally. While national governments apply their laws on the Internet, the Internet is a global network of networks and presents many issues that span national jurisdictions, and therefore requires global governance.

Figure 1.

Internet users 1992 -2009 (ITU, 2009)

Table 1.
Countries with highest number of internet users, 2008 (Adapted from Internet World Stats, 2008)
CountryInternet UsersPenetration% of World
(% Population)Users
1China253,000,00019.017.3
2United States220,141,96972.515.0
3Japan94,000,00073.86.4
4India60,000,0005.24.1
5Germany52,533,91463.83.6
6Brazil50,000,00026.13.4
7UK41,817,84768.62.9
8France36,153,32758.12.5
9South Korea34,820,00070.72.4
10Italy34,708,14459.72.4
Total World Users1,463,000,00021.9100

Key Terms in this Chapter

End-to-End Principle: Technical design and architecture of regarding where to put and not to put functions in a communication system.

Global Governance: Shared norms and principles regarding how to manage an issue that has international or global implications.

Governance: Resource allocation by multiple political actors and institutions, often including but not limited to governments.

Civil Society: Non-governmental, non-profit organizations, networks and voluntary associations.

Internet governance: Shared norms and principles regarding how to manage both the Internet’s technical and public policy issues.

Multistakeholderism: Governance or decision-making involving a range of stakeholders.

Internet: An international computer network of networks.

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