Consensus, driven by stakeholders, used to be the default method of internet governance both in the United States and by its allies in Europe and elsewhere.
Under this approach, instead of imposing government rules on digital companies, national governments largely deferred to the decisions of groups composed of industry representatives, academics, technical experts and civil society members. China never accepted this model, arguing instead for “internet sovereignty,” whereby the online world would fall under the jurisdiction of national governments. Many other governments have followed this approach.
Indeed, without quite saying so, many governments around the world have quietly abandoned multi-stakeholderism. It turned out that, without legally enforceable requirements, this model proved ineffective at digital governance. Centralized online regulations have been adopted or are pending in Australia, Canada, the European Union, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
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