Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace

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Overview

In Ruling the Root, Milton Mueller uses the theoretical framework of institutional economics to analyze the global policy and governance problems created by the assignment of Internet domain names and addresses. "The root" is the top of the domain name hierarchy and the Internet address space. It is the only point of centralized control in what is otherwise a distributed and voluntaristic network of networks. Both domain names and IP numbers are valuable resources, and their assignment on a coordinated basis is essential to the technical operation of the Internet. Mueller explains how control of the root is being leveraged to control the Internet itself in such key areas as trademark and copyright protection, surveillance of users, content regulation, and regulation of the domain name supply industry.

Control of the root originally resided in an informally organized technical elite comprised mostly of American computer scientists. As the Internet became commercialized and domain name registration became a profitable business, a six-year struggle over property rights and the control of the root broke out among Internet technologists, business and intellectual property interests, international organizations, national governments, and advocates of individual rights. By the late 1990s, it was apparent that only a new international institution could resolve conflicts among the factions in the domain name wars. Mueller recounts the fascinating process that led to the formation of a new international regime around ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. In the process, he shows how the vaunted freedom and openness of the Internet is being diminished by theinstitutionalization of the root.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"If you care about the prospect of losing your rights...this book's for you - perhaps even on a beach." Anick Jesdanun LA Times

The MIT Press

"If you care about the prospect of losing your rights...this book's for you." Anick
Jesdanun LA Times

The MIT Press

"The Internet is in the midst of a kind of 'constitutional crisis,' with contending parties struggling, largely out of public view, for control of the 'root,' the one central point of authority on which the functioning of the Internet depends. It is a complicated story, but Mueller tells it well, demystifying the complex web of technical and policy questions at the very heart of this struggle; anyone interested in whether, and how, the Internet might continue its remarkable growth into the future would be well advised to start here."--David Post, Temple University Law
School

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262134125
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 5/3/2002
  • Pages: 327

Meet the Author

Milton L. Mueller is Professor at Syracuse University's School of Information Studies. He is the author of Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace
(MIT Press, 2002) and other books.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Problem of the Root 1
I The Root as Resource
2 The Basic Political Economy of Identifiers 15
3 The Internet Name and Address Spaces 31
4 The Root and Institutional Change: Analytical Framework 57
II The Story of the Root
5 Growing the Root 73
6 Appropriating the Root: Property Rights Conflicts 105
7 The Root in Play 141
8 Institutionalizing the Root: The Formation of ICANN 163
9 The New Regime 185
III Issues and Themes
10 ICANN as Global Regulatory Regime 211
11 Global Rights to Names 227
12 Property Rights and Institutional Change: Some Musings on Theory 255
13 The Taming of the Net 265
Selected Acronyms 269
Notes 273
References 303
Index 311
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