Multistakeholder Internet Governance

Internet governance is an issue growing in importance and it will continue to grow as the internet becomes the primary means by which people communicate. The internet is a method for sharing information that exists transnationally. How do policy makers and interested parties regulate a mechanism of communication that has no physical form? Internet governance is the tricky development of institutions, procedures, and rules that regulate how the internet is used across the world. One of the first questions is who gets to be involved in the process of governing the internet?

There are a variety of stakeholders. First and foremost are states, as they regulate most global interactions and must preserve the rule of law, even over the internet. Other stakeholders would be the corporations and businesses that benefit most from internet traffic and usage. Technology and information companies have a major stake in the successful regulation of the internet and achieving their goals without being restricted. The people themselves are major stakeholders as they are the average users who depend on the internet for daily use.

Internet governance plays a major role in sustainable development in terms of providing equal access to information for all. Without government regulation, the corporations who provide access to information and communicative technologies could pick and choose recipients based on whoever can pay more. While this trend already exists to some degree, government regulation ensures that corporations cannot monopolize internet access. Equal access to the internet is essential for developing communities to communicate effectively, encourage investment, build industry, and strengthen education.

There a variety of platforms and forums that promote and facilitate discussion on internet governance and how to manage it in the future. Netmundial was a meeting for the various stakeholders in internet governance to come together and discuss ideas that took place in Brazil in 2014. The meeting placed states and other international multistakeholders. The focus of the meeting was to create balance among the various stakeholders and foster open communication between all of the players. There is also the Internet Governance Forum, which is a multistakeholder platform that encourages discussion regarding public policy issues and the internet.