Evolving norms in Global Internet Governance


The Internet, a worldwide system of interconnected computer networks, is one among the foremost defining technologies of our time. Most aspects of our lives are touched in some form or another by the web, including our economic and financial systems, our social interactions, our education, work, and civic participation, also because many services we use to enrich our lives, from entertainment and banking services to booking travel. In layman’s language Internet, governance is that the development of norms and principles concerning the functioning of the web by a gaggle of stakeholders which incorporates governments, and organizations.

The United Nations working for the party on Internet Governance (WGIG) defined Internet governance in 2005 as “the development and application by governments, the private sector, and civil society, in their respective roles, of shared principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and programs, that shape the evolution and utilization of the web.” While it took until 2005 to succeed in an agreement on this definition, the principles, rules, norms, and processes that underpin the web are evolving for many years and can still evolve[i]. Internet governance may be a large, complex, and ambiguous topic. Once we believe regulation of the web, we’d be brooding about a narrow but important set of questions on specific institutions, like the web Engineering Task Force (IETF) or the web Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) these institutions are often said to control the technical infrastructure and architecture of the web.

History of Internet Governance

The core concept of the web as a decentralized network of networks was born within the 1950s and 1960s thanks to the perceived threat of a Soviet nuclear attack on the country’s centralized communication systems. The thought was to create a decentralized system of communication that might utilize a “web” instead of a central hub. In such a system, messages might be sent through an outsized network of carrier lines without having to undergo a central and simply destroyable hub, allowing different pathways to the destination. the primary such decentralized system was the Arpanet, a project of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) under the US Department of Defense.

Within the following decades, because the conflict threat diminished, the Department of Defense lost interest within the idea of a decentralized communications network and left the remnants of what that they had created to “excited students who wanted to attach computers and test and develop something new. Born out of libertarian ideals within the US, the “free and open” credo of the first Internet meant that information should flow freely across all networks, that each one should have equal access to use the web in almost any way imaginable, and with limited government interference.

First, from a technical standpoint, it meant that different networks with different transmission technologies could connect into one large global network, allowing internetwork communication of independent and physically differing networks through a standard protocol – the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Second, from an economic, social, and political standpoint, this approach was critical for allowing anyone with a computer and an online connection to play a task in building the identity of the web.

As such, it served as a key driver of the Internet’s astonishing growth and its role as, for instance, an engine for economic process and international trade, a vehicle for brand spanking new technological development, and as a platform for exercising human rights like the freedoms of speech and assembly. Today, Internet governance encompasses the whole mixture of issues that determine the web experience at the local, national, regional, and global levels – starting from the technical side, like interoperability standards, to politicized issues like censorship, misinformation campaigns, and net neutrality, among many others.

Importance of Internet Governance

Internet is that the single best tool which allows billions of individuals to speak with one another during a glimpse of an eye fixed. The web remains evolving organically, but it’s already assumed its function as a ubiquitous tool for communication anywhere on our planet. If Internet Governance is completed properly, the web can remain an excellent motor for the longer term of humankind and its social and economic development. We’d like to offer people access to have personal data that’s held by the businesses, also because of the data produced by the govt, paid by us, within the sort of taxes. The more relevant information people can access, the faster our collective development is going to be. When governing and regulating the web, we must strive to stay it free, neutral, and accessible for all. We’d like to open data while protecting our privacy. an honest example of such a problem within the debate in ICANN on the Registry Directory Services (RDS)[ii], where private citizens and associates of NGOs can have their personal information hidden while maintaining access to a wider set of knowledge elements for the usage of the enforcement.

Internet Governance plays an important role in ensuring the playing field stays as equal as possible for all mankind. The more people we will engage with this universal tool, the more we’ll be ready to draw from our collective intelligence.

Models of Internet Governance

Five Models of Internet Governance the elemental subject of Internet governance is institutional -what institutions, if any, shall govern the web and the way shall they be organized. Even a fast survey of existing Internet governance institutions reveals a posh set of institutions. At the surface level, there is a spread of institutions that are specifically targeted at Internet governance, the IETF, ICANN, and various other organizations. Also, governments play a task. All national governments assert the facility to manage the physical infrastructure of the web and therefore the activities of end-users and content providers that happen within national boundaries. Further, the architecture of the web or its ‘code’ is often seen as a sort of Internet governance institution, because architecture may influence the feasibility and price of varied regulatory alternatives. Moreover, even after the ‘dotcom’ bust, it’s apparent that the web is regulated by the market, and current controversies over network neutrality provide further evidence that economic process can hit the basics of network design.

Five models of Internet governance

  • The model of cyberspace and spontaneous ordering which is premised on the thought that the web may be a self-governing realm of individual liberty, beyond the reach of state control.
  • The model of transnational institutions and international organizations which is predicated on the notion that Internet governance inherently transcends national borders and hence that the foremost appropriate institutions are transnational quasi-private cooperatives or international organizations supported treaty arrangements between national governments.
  • The model of code and Internet architecture which is predicated on the notion that a lot of regulatory decisions are made by the communications protocols and other software that determine how the web operates.
  •  The model of national governments and law which is predicated on the thought that because the Internet grows in importance fundamental regulatory decisions are going to be made by national governments through legal regulation.
  • The model of market regulation and economics assumes that economic process drives the elemental decisions about the character of the web.

 ICANN, Internet Governance, and WSIS

Section sketches out the ten-year history of regime construction efforts and analyzes its modest results so far. ICANN was established as a California nonprofit public benefit corporation in 1998. Its creation was invoked by the US Department of Commerce during a public proceeding in 1997-1998 that invited international participation. ICANN took over the centralized coordination of the Internet’s name and address assignments that had been performed by two United States government contractors: University of Southern California-based scientist and Internet pioneer Jon Postel, who acted because the “Internet Assigned Numbers Authority” (IANA), and a corporation referred to as Network Solutions, now referred to as VeriSign. ICANN was deliberately found out as a personal sector, multistakeholder governance organization, although it eventually included some governmental input through its Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). It also retained its contractual relations with the United States government, operating under three separate agreements.

The United States government maintains unilateral oversight of ICANN through these agreements. ICANN’s unique governance arrangement was prompted by two concerns. The primary was an effort to realize global as against territorial regulation of the name system (DNS). Informing its policy toward the web and global electronic commerce, the Clinton administration, and major information technology executives at firms like IBM, MCI, and AOL worried that electronic commerce would be undermined by widespread assertions. With some legitimate cause, it feared that national governments would impose on the naturally global arena of the web a patchwork of inconsistent or conflicting national laws and regulations. a personal sector governance authority was perceived as how around this problem. The Clinton administration’s policy called on governments to “establish a predictable and straightforward legal environment supported a decentralized, contractual model of law instead of one supported top-down regulation.

The US was also leery of European-led efforts to make a replacement international treaty or charter for the regulation of the web, fearing that it might open the door to the imposition of an ITU or UN-like bureaucracy. Thus, the 1998 Department of Commerce white book that served because the founding document for ICANN avoided direct government action while inviting international participation in governance. Before the creation of ICANN, the ITU had worked with the web Society and WIPO to make their own privatized name administration regime.

That effort, referred to as the Generic Top Level name Memorandum of Understanding was established when the United States government, which controlled the central coordinating functions of the system through Network Solutions, refused to travel along. During the next formation of ICANN, European governments, scared of being overlooked of the new regime, pushed hard for the inclusion of governments and international organizations. One result was the addition of a Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to ICANN’s structure. GAC would offer a consultation and advice forum but wasn’t alleged to have an immediate influence on board appointments or policy. Another result was the choice to allow the WIPO to develop rules governing name trademark disputes. The ITU, to the contrary, was just about frozen out, although it could participate indirectly via GAC. Thus, within the ICANN regime, we succeeded in establishing a governance regime dominated by itself and by non-state actors.

The United States government privatized and internationalized key policymaking functions but retained considerable authority for itself, acting as a contractor to ICANN and also asserting “policy authority” over the name system’s root, reserving to itself the proper to review and approve any changes to the basis zone file proposed by ICANN. Initially, we promised that this authority was temporary; ICANN would become fully privatized and independent after two years.

Later, the US delayed and eventually retracted that position, retaining its unilateral authority over the DNS root. Beginning in 2003, the ICANN drama intersected with the WSIS, a United Nations summit comparable in scope and purpose to the world Summit of 1992 and therefore the Fourth World Conference on Women of 1995. The idea for a summit that might specialize in information and communication technology and development was hatched by the ITU in 19986 and authorized by a General Assembly resolution in 2001.7 WSIS was an unusual two-phase event, with the primary summit located in Geneva in December 2003 and therefore the second in Tunisia in November 2005.

The governments of South Africa, China, and Brazil, backed by several other developing countries and therefore the ITU, gained formal recognition of their dissatisfaction with current Internet governance arrangements.

Principles for the worldwide Internet

  1. Internet governance
  2. Internet standards create a worldwide commons
  3. Internet is essentially composed of the private network
  4. Internet incorporates an end-to-end design
  5. Internet requires exclusive and coordinated resource assignment
  6. The web is non-territorial

Working on Internet Governance

Internet governance consists of three broad areas:

  1. The tools that govern the functioning of the web and behaviour on it;
  2. The layers upon which these tools are used at the local, national, regional and global levels; and
  3. The actors that are involved in shaping and applying these rules.

First, the tools of Internet governance take the shape of laws, policies, technical standards, or codes of conduct that are formed, monitored, and enforced by numerous actors. for instance, policies regarding public investment into the upkeep, expansion, and upgrading of infrastructure are mostly set by governments, as is that the case currently with the rollout of the 5G mobile data standard. Non-governmental organizations are often primarily liable for ensuring technical coordination and compatibility[iii]. For example, the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the assignment of domain names and IP addresses while the web Engineering Task Force (IETF), a world non-profit organization with open membership, promotes voluntary Internet standards that ensure technical coordination and compatibility.

Private sector companies that make the software that defines the web experience are often liable for developing the codes of conduct for the usage of those applications, whereas governments play a task in regulating content online as illustrated, for instance, by Chinese censorship laws. Second, these tools are applied across different ‘layers’[iv]that make the whole functioning and usage of the web possible:

  • The Content Layer—the symbols and pictures that are communicated.
  • The Application Layer—the programs that use the web (e.g. the Web).
  • The Transport Layer—TCP, which breaks the info into packets.
  • The Internet Protocol Layer—IP, which handles the flow of knowledge over the network.
  • The Link Layer—the interface between users’ computers and therefore the physical layer.
  • The Physical Layer—the copper wire, optical cable, satellite links, etc.

Norms for the Worldwide Internet

Krasner defines norms as standards of behaviour defined in terms of rights and obligations. Norms repose on principles by motivating rules and procedures. Taking under consideration the principles cited above, we propose the subsequent norms for an online regime. The web model has an unparalleled record of success in facilitating communication, providing public access to information, rapidly adapting technologically to changing conditions, and making efficient use of obtainable infrastructure. Therefore, a future Internet regime must not contradict the essential architectural principles of the web, defined as standards commons; decentralized responsibility for networks, content, and services; and end-to-end architecture. There are many advocacy groups and interests that emphasize one aspect of the architectural model to the exclusion of the opposite. Some call the web a “commons” or a “global public good” but fail to ascertain the critical role played by private initiative, exclusivity among networks, and economic process. Some make the other mistake. Both fail to ascertain that it’s the powerful, complementary combination of standards commons; market.

Following are the norms-

  • The technical model should be preserved.
  • Should not allow the commons to be privatized.
  • Should not transform the standards commons into a basis for over-regulating the private market.
  • Technical coordination and standardization functions should not be loaded with policy functions.
  • Control of the centralized aspects of the online should be distributed and limited the utmost amount as possible.
  • Multistakeholder governance should be legitimized and maintained. This norm could also be a logical extension of principles concerning private networks and global scope. The online is in effect a worldwide confederation of network operators and users and can not be regulated during a top-down manner via agreements among states alone.

Who runs the Internet?

The Internet itself could also be a globally distributed network comprised of the various voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks. Similarly, its governance is conducted by a decentralized and international multistakeholder network of interconnected autonomous groups drawing from civil society, the private sector, governments, the tutorial and research communities, and national and international organizations. They work cooperatively from their respective roles to form shared policies and standards that maintain the Internet’s global interoperability for the overall public.


India has been vocal in Internet governance debates at the international level, but its stances on multi-stakeholders are perplexing, to say the littlest amount. While there is a well-liked conception that India follows authoritarian regimes and their desire for control in supporting multilateralism, we’ve shown that the reality is much from simple. What we see, now, then is an approach that lies somewhere between multilateralism and multi-stakeholderism[v], what we term as nuanced multilateralism. India has supported this model where a multitude of stakeholders are consulted in policy formulation but not involved in its implementation and enforcement. Particular issues like cyber-security, protection of kids online, and management of key Internet resources are taken care of by the Governments. Thus, this hybrid kind of Internet governance places a strong emphasis on the involvement of stakeholders and their diversity but retaining the core decision-making powers for the upper echelon.


  1. What is global Internet Governance?
  2. Why internet governance is important?
  3. What are the models of internet governance?
  4. How does Internet Governance Work?
  5. Who runs the internet?

[i] https://www.gppi.net/media/Internet-Governance-Past-Present-and-Future.pdf

[ii] https://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/basics/who-owns-internet2.htm

[iii] https://www.gppi.net/media/Internet-Governance-Past-Present-and-Future.pdf

[iv] University of Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE08-027, Models of Internet Governance Lawrence B. Solum


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *