The path towards centralization of Internet governance under the UN

Internet Local government

As part of the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society that resulted from the United Nations (UN) World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), governments agreed to set in motion an Internet Governance Forum (IGF), mandating it, among other tasks, to: 'Discuss public policy issues related to key elements of Internet Governance?'

Some people are excited about the prospect of Internet public policy taking place under the United Nations (UN) umbrella. This group includes: many individuals from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who enjoy having their voices heard in international discussions on Internet governance; some government officials who embrace the idea of shared control over the Internet; and assorted academics who see a new field of study emerging and relish being at the forefront.

In the nay-sayer camp are people who believe that there is much hype, but little substance, in the talk of international Internet governance. This group includes: various technologists who see the distributed approach to Internet control as natural and who shun restrictive regulation; some government officials who believe a single government can and should go it alone; select academics who see governments as still operating quite independently when it comes to steering the Internet; and many business people who view the whole discussion as a lot of hot air with little chance for substantive impact.

This essay is the first of a three-part series. It focuses on the steps of a possible roadmap for centralizing Internet governance under the UN.

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