The distributed nature of Internet infrastructure and relatively malleable user engagement with content can misleadingly create the impression that the Internet is not governed. At technologically concealed layers, coordinated and sometimes centralized governance of the Internet’s technical architecture is necessary to keep the network operational, secure and universally accessible. This paper, the second in the Internet Governance Paper Series, explains how the Internet’s core technical architecture is governed and how global public policy decisions are co-produced within this framework. Several open governance issues are raised, including proposed changes in interconnection agreements and architectural changes agonistic to universal interoperability. 

Part of Series

The need to develop a coherent strategy for Internet governance ensuring that difficult trade-offs between competing interests, as well as between distinct public values, are managed in a consistent, transparent and accountable manner that accurately reflects public priorities guides the members of this research project, launched in 2012. In aiming to develop this strategy, project members will consider what kind of Internet the world wants in 2020, and will lay the analytical groundwork for future Internet governance discussions, most notably the upcoming decennial review of the World Summit on the Information Society. The Internet Governance paper series will result in the publication of a book in early 2014.
  • A scholar of Internet architecture and governance, Laura DeNardis joined CIGI as a senior fellow in 2013. A professor at American University and affiliated fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, her research focuses on global Internet governance.