Thinking Clearly About Multistakeholder Internet Governance by Dr. Laura DeNardis (American University ; Yale Information Society Project) & Mark Raymond (Centre for International Governance Innovation)

Abstract: Efforts to study and practice Internet governance start, virtually without exception, from the premise that the Internet is governed by an innovative, unusual (perhaps unique) ‘multistakeholder’ model. Preserving that model is a primary goal for the broader Internet community as well as for many governments, though not for all. Viewing multistakeholderism as a teleological goal for Internet governance creates several problems. First, multistakeholderism is often elevated as a value in itself rather than as a possible approach to meeting more salient public interest objectives such as preserving Internet interoperability, stability, security, and openness. Second, multistakeholder governance may not be appropriate in every functional area of Internet governance. Internet coordination is not a monolithic practice but rather a multilayered series of tasks of which some are appropriately relegated to the private sector, some the purview of traditional nation-state governance or international treaty negotiations, and some more appropriately multistakeholder. It is a misnomer to speak not only of multistakeholder governance but also of Internet governance as a single thing.

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