The internet is a transnational resource. Much like the ocean and the air we breathe, the internet is not created by any one nation, and cannot be disproportionately regulated by any one nation. Our anarchic world system, absent of international government, leads to complications regarding internet governance. What is more, the internet has a vast range of uses for all stakeholders. Students, governments, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and individuals are but a small list of the endless groups within society that all rely on the internet. However, lack of ownership over this infinite resource makes oversight and regulation complicated. This is why multistakeholder governance over the internet is crucial to ensuring that regulation of this recourse is inclusive and transparent, and collective responsibility, and effective decision-making and implementation are maintained.
Originally developed for US military purposes, the internet’s uses and accessibility have dramatically expanded and are continuing to do so. ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) oversees internet governance and assigns domain names and transport controls. This organization handles the maintenance of the central Internet address pools by authorizing domain name sales and handling registrations. It is run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This is why the recent transition of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is so important. In 2013, Internet Society (IS) members demanded that IANA’s oversight role be distanced from the US government and oriented more towards the international, multistakeholder community. The US government responded positively, demonstrating a willingness to transition oversight to make it internationally equitable.