Understanding the Role of States in Global Internet Governance: ICANN and the Question of Legitimacy

34 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2018

See all articles by Mark Datysgeld

Mark Datysgeld

São Paulo State University (UNESP)

Date Written: August 20, 2018


The term “global governance” gained renewed significance with the expansion of the Internet Governance regime, an arrangement in which most institutions make use of the multistakeholder model to generate norms, with spaces for open dialogue and decision-making that includes most interested actors. This presents a deviation from the model traditionally studied by global governance, which is that of the United Nations and its multitude of agencies, where despite the inclusion of other actors, most of the time States are still at the focal point of the norm-setting process. With a focus on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the main objective of this study is that of understanding where the legitimacy of the actors involved in leading this regime comes from, and in order to do that, we: A) examine the formation of the DNS per se and why it provides a measure of power to the actor that controls it; B) evaluate how legitimacy was established by the actors who took on leading positions within the Internet Governance regime; and C) understand how subsequently the dynamics between State and private actors in this multistakeholder environment were consolidated. We use Weber’s “Three Types of Legitimate Rule” to analyze power dynamics within the model, and conclude that a great deal of power was held by the academics who built the network, and as it became larger and more consolidated, private and government actors have made significant efforts to gain increased control over it, with some degree of success.

Keywords: Global Governance, ICANN, Internet Governance, Legitimacy, Multistakeholder process, GigaNet

Suggested Citation

Datysgeld, Mark, Understanding the Role of States in Global Internet Governance: ICANN and the Question of Legitimacy (August 20, 2018). GigaNet: Global Internet Governance Academic Network, Annual Symposium 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3235470 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3235470

Mark Datysgeld (Contact Author)

São Paulo State University (UNESP) ( email )

Ilha Solteira

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