Jefferson Rebuffed - the United States and the Future of Internet Governance

41 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2006

See all articles by Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger

Oxford Internet Institute; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Malte Ziewitz

Cornell University

Date Written: May 2006


Over the last several years, many have called for an internationalization of Internet governance in general, and Internet naming and numbering in particular. The multi-year WSIS process that culminated in November 2005 was intended to create momentum in such direction. The United States has long resisted such internationalization, fearing in particular the growing influence of China and similar nations. In September 2005 the European Union put forward a proposal which would have offered a constitutional moment for Internet governance by suggesting internationalization based on fundamental values of the Internet community. The swift rejection of the proposal by the US was surprising, both from a tactical as well as - in light of its own constitutional history - a substantive viewpoint. In this article we describe the main features of the European proposal and what it might have created. We evaluate four possible arguments explaining US rejection: delegation of power, objective rights, public choice, and de-legitimization of international regimes.

Keywords: Information Technology, Intergovernmental Relations, International Affairs/Globalization, Law and Legal Institutions, Science¬ł Technology and Public Policy

Suggested Citation

Mayer-Schoenberger, Viktor and Ziewitz, Malte, Jefferson Rebuffed - the United States and the Future of Internet Governance (May 2006). KSG Working Paper No. RWP06-018, Available at SSRN: or

Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger (Contact Author)

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-7299 (Phone)
617-496-5960 (Fax)

Malte Ziewitz

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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