The Geopolitics of the Internet: Seeing the Negotiating Table

Will the Internet’s future resemble its past? That seems increasingly unlikely, given the growing influence of new global powers, the determination of many governments to control Internet access and content, and the difficulties of balancing security and civil liberties. This was the take-home message at a meeting last week on “The Geopolitics of Internet Governance,” hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The coming transformation may well challenge the longstanding U.S. vision of an open network whose governance remains largely in private hands.To date, global Internet governance remains largely unchanged since the early 1990s, when engineers and technical experts established the “rules of the game” to manage Internet exchanges in individual countries and assigned domain names through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This networked, decentralized platform has permitted an explosion of private sector activity and empowered individuals to obtain and share data, knowledge and ideas in unprecedented ways.

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