What is Internet governance and who exactly governs the Internet? These are the issues we grappled with in our class discussion about multistakeholder Internet governance. Internet governance is complex. The Internet is not owned by a single entity; there is no global government in charge of the Internet. Instead, multiple stakeholders govern the Internet through various means including the IGF and ICANN.
As highlighted in class, the concept of Internet governance arose after the first phase of WSIS in Geneva, Switzerland. This introduction of Internet governance allowed for the creation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). As mentioned on its’ website, the IGF is a “multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.” Further, the IGF “serves to bring people together from various stakeholder groups as equals, in discussions on public policy issues relating to the Internet.”
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) also governs the Internet utilizing a multistakeholder governance framework. According to its’ website, ICANN is a “not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world keeping the Internet secure, stable, and interoperable.”
Because the Internet has no boundaries, it is my opinion that the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance is highly beneficial. The Internet should not be owned or regulated by one entity, organization, or nation. This would give far too much power to one entity, and would be counterintuitive in the movement toward inclusive sustainable development.
According to “Internet Governance – Why the Multistakeholder Approach Works,” the multistakeholder governance framework is informed by (1) open-ended unleashed innovation, (2) decentralized governance institutions, and (3) open and inclusive processes. I believe that this framework is highly important, especially regarding the inclusiveness and transparency, collective responsibility, and effective decision-making and implementation measures of the multistakeholder governance framework. This framework allows for the participation of the international community in addressing a very critical need – access to the Internet. As access to ICTs increases in bridging the “digital-divide”, Internet governance will continue to be a predominant issue, especially with the addition of new stakeholders.