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The expansion of the Internet has been called the most revolutionary development in the history of human communications. It is ubiquitous and is changing politics, economics and social relations. Its borderless nature affects the roles of individuals, the magic of the marketplace and the problems of government regulation. As its development has increased apace, contradictions have arisen between existing regulatory regimes, private interests, government concerns, international norms and national interests. Unlike most areas where there are global institutions, and the role of governments is predominant, the Internet is a field where the private sector and civil society each have a role as important – or sometimes more important – than governments.
Based on international regime theory, this book analyses how the multi-stakeholder institutions have grown along with the Internet itself. Starting with an examination of how communications were regulated under the Westphalian system, John Mathiason shows how governance of the Internet started as a technical issue but became increasingly political as the management of critical resources began to conflict with other international regimes.
Introduction 1. What is the Internet and what is governance? 2. Before the Internet: communications and its regulation through history 3. The non-state actors: engineers, entrepreneurs and netizens 4. Solving the domain name problem: Internet governance is born 5. Regulatory imperatives for Internet governance: downloading music, free speech, You-tube, porn, and crime and terrorism 6. The ICANN experiment 7. Multi-stakeholderism emerges from the World Summit on the Information Society 8. The IGF experiment begins 9. What does the frontier look like?