Multistakeholder Internet Governance

Internet governance, as learned throughout the class discussions, relates to the internet community and the number of stakeholders that make decisions about the development and use of the internet. It was in WSIS 2005 that the term was coined and put to use. The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was then created and has been able to provide valuable opportunities for thousands of representatives in a number of different stakeholder groups. All of these groups are all interconnected as they operate without a central governing body. The question that now arises is: how do we govern the internet? And if so, who governs it? The internet was created in the United States under ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) and different decisions were made and established to spread the internet around the world. Because of this, the internet became more valuable when more people were using it.

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) oversees the majority of assignments within the internet such as: domain names, transport controls and even internet protocol addresses. ICANN is governed by the NTIA, which makes ICANN one of the few bodies with a global and centralized influence over the diverse number of groups that are on the internet. However, ICANN did have a number of controversial issues that did not make their decision-making process easy. This led to the creation of the IANA Transition Process on October 1st of 2016 to enhance ICANN’s accountability and to illustrate the affirmation of the principles that best addresses the challenges of governing the internet and fulfill the global requirements that it gives to all of the countries using it.

Because the creation and most of the development efforts of the internet came from the USA, it was believed by many that there should not be a core resource that is solely based there. This is where the legitimacy of the ITU (International telecommunication Union) was being challenged. The purpose of the ITU is to “coordinate telecommunication operations and services throughout the world” but the purpose of the internet was for it not to be state owned and it was hard to fully trust that the development and use of the internet was not being compromised to benefit just the USA and the groups that reside within it.

It is hard to imagine the internet being managed by just one country or stakeholder group. The importance of having multi-stakeholders is so that they take the initiative to allow all the different communities to engage. Once there is full transparency, it will be easier to organize and make decisions when dealing with the internet. NETmundial was a critical opportunity to reinforce the IGF so that it can be strengthened and improved to enhance the participation of a number of countries, including developing ones. This global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of internet governance was the mechanism needed to ensure the principles needed for a multilateral mechanism to work worldwide.