Rethinking Accountability in Cyberspace: A New Perspective on Icann

11 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2006

See all articles by Kees de Vey Mestdagh

Kees de Vey Mestdagh

University of Groningen

Rudolf W. Rijgersberg

Maastricht University; affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 2006


One of the most persistent debates regarding Internet governance concerns ICANN's accountability deficit. This paper identifies the habitual application of a State frame of reference by which scholars and politicians address accountability issues regarding the domain name system as the source of this debate. Re-examination of the assumptions underlying two exemplary solutions, direct elections and intergovernmental supervision, shows that the State frame of reference informing this debate ultimately breaks down. The availability of alternative services renders the call for a State-based model by which to judge and design ICANN's accountability provisions superfluous. The latter part of the paper shows that a market model is more appropriate to assess ICANN's accountability mechanisms and its role amongst other domain name services providers. In addition, a market frame of reference enables us to understand ICANN's hybrid organisational structure better.

Keywords: Internet governance, ICANN, accountability, cyberspace

Suggested Citation

de Vey Mestdagh, Kees and Rijgersberg, Rudolf W. and Rijgersberg, Rudolf W., Rethinking Accountability in Cyberspace: A New Perspective on Icann (July 2006). Available at SSRN: or

Kees De Vey Mestdagh

University of Groningen ( email )



Rudolf W. Rijgersberg (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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