Whois WSIS; Whois IGF: The New Consensus-Based Internet Governance
43 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2006 Last revised: 3 Aug 2010
Date Written: Febuary 20, 2007
The first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Athens from Oct 30-Nov 2, 2006. This meeting capped off nearly a decade of preparations and planning, organized through the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The ultimate result, the IGF, is a discussion body with no decision-making power and a mandate to do little more than publish its results. This article argues that despite this thin mandate - and perhaps because of it - the IGF and the process leading up to it mark a fundamental shift in Internet governance. For the first time, we are entering an era of truly International Internet governance.
This Article comprises four parts. The first three parts present the development of Internet governance. In broad strokes, it is drawn in three stages: pre-governance, modern US governance, and "post-modern" International governance. Pre-governance, the subject of the first part of this Article, spanned the birth of the Internet through the birth of ISOC, the Internet Society - during which the Internet went from having no centralized point of control, to the development in 1983 of a centralized Domain Name System, and from there to the initiation of the modern governance debate by ISOC. The modern era, the second part of this article, starts with this shift in discussion, continues through the creation of ICANN, and runs up through the present implementation of the WSIS outcome. The third part of this article looks at the ongoing shift in the governance discussion - the WSIS- and IGF-induced shift away from control of the DNS. Pending the success of this shift, we are witnessing the creation of a "post-modern" Internet governance. Early indications suggest the success of the new discussion, and thus the birth of a third era of Internet governance.
The last part of this Article puts this evolution of Internet governance into a theoretical framework.
Keywords: WSIS, IGF, ICANN, internet, governance
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