The deliberate forgetting of the Internet
There are many ways in which we have forgotten the Internet.
By ‘deliberate forgetting’ which sounds paradoxical – I mean the way in which something of which we are very aware we at the same time fail to pay attention to as it mutates but still swirls about us increasingly constituting our world…and the closer we are to it the less we see it as something to care about – so long as it works.
Is this true of the net? Key to my argument here is that although Benkler and Lessig focus in on 3 or 4 levels of control function within the net and moreover advocate a much more open source software approach to the net, recent scholarship such as that of Laura de Nardis and of Mueller have begun to point out that:
the governance of the Internet is not simply evolving towards a battleground between cyber-libertarians and cyber-conservatives which again, reduces to proprietorial or open networks,
rather that there are so many interactive or – worryingly – partially interactive and thereby potentially conflicting layers of control within the whole system that if anything, the net in terms of how it is administrated and governed is becoming more complex. But we do not see this. We in a way have forgotten to look under the bonnet
Libertarians versus authoritarians.
Lessig: 4 forms of regulation
Law state laws, defamation law, and obscenity laws
Norms how we behave online
Market companies who hold the software
Architecture structure of the internet
Benkler: 3 forms of regulation
Physical physical links to cyberspace
Content content stored on hard disk/info files.
tend to speak of the Internet as if it were a thing,
but in reality
the Internet is entirely virtual; it consists of
nothing but a software protocol suite known as
Data communication on the Internet takes place by breaking messages into smaller units called packets and routing them from network to network. In order to know where to go, each packet must carry a numerical address, known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Every computer connected to the Internet must have a unique IP address. To supplement these numerical addresses, the computers, routers, and other resources connected to the network can be given user-friendly names like www.yahoo.com, known as domain names.
Many vital activities on the Internet, such as email or the World Wide Web, use domain names rather than IP numbers as addresses. But for packets to flow across the network, the user-friendly names must be translated into IP addresses. Both kinds of addresses—domain names and IP numbers—are valuable resources, a kind of virtual real estate that can be bought and sold. It was name and address management that created the controversies that led to the. The specific set of functions at issue can be summarized as
1) The authority to set policy for and to manage the allocation and assignment of Internet Protocol addresses
2) The authority to add new names to the top level of the Internet domain name hierarchy
3) The responsibility for operating root servers that distribute authoritative information about the content of the top level of the domain name space
Fundamentals of Internet structure
Internet Protocol addresses (IP addresses) are arguably the most fundamental resource required for the exchange of information over the Internet. Each device exchanging information over the Internet possesses a unique binary number identifying its virtual location, either assigned temporarily for a session or assigned permanently. Internet routers use IP addresses to determine how to route packets over the Internet. This is somewhat analogous to the postal system’s dependence on unique physical addresses. Under the longstanding standard for Internet addresses, called Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4),4 each binary address is a fixed 32 bits in length. This provides a reserve of 232, or approximately 4.3 billion unique Internet addresses. In 1990, the Internet standards community identified the potential depletion of addresses as a crucial design concern and the IETF recommended a new protocol, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) to expand the number of available addresses. IPv6 extends the length of each address from 32 to 128 bits, supplying 2128, or 340 decillion addresses. Despite the longstanding availability of IPv6 and for a variety of political and technical reasons, the upgrade to IPv6 has barely begun on any global scale.
The DNS, it is an enormous, hierarchical database management system (DBMS) distributed globally across countless servers. The Internet’s root name servers contain a master file known as the root zone file itemizing the IP addresses and associated names of the official DNS servers for all top‐level domains (TLDs): generic ones like .com, .edu, .gov, etc. and country codes, or ccTLDs such as .cn for China or .uk for the United Kingdom. DNS management and domain name administration has always been a central task of Internet governance.
Another central Internet governance function is the development of Internet technical protocols, the standards that enable interoperability among information technologies.
The Internet "works" because it is universally based upon a common protocological language.
sometimes considered difficult to grasp because they are intangible and often
invisible to Internet users. They are not software and they are not material
hardware. They are closer to text (Galloway 2004). Protocols are standards that
technology developers use to manufacture products that will inherently be
compatible with other products based on the same standards. Routine Internet
use involves the direct engagement of hundreds of standards ranging from
Bluetooth wireless, Wi-Fi standards, the MP3 format
for encoding and compressing audio files, an array of VoIP
protocols, HTTP for information exchange among web browsers and servers, and
The Internet Engineering Task Force is the institution that has developed the core
networking protocols for the Internet, including IPv4, IPv6,
Both the Internet’s architecture and its governance are constantly changing. The content and computing devices to which end users are exposed constitute only the surface of a massive underlying infrastructure of networks, services, and institutions that keep the Internet operational. Most of this material and virtual architecture is comprised of private information intermediaries such as network operators, exchange points, search engines hosting services, ecommerce platforms, and social media providers. Despite the privatized and somewhat autonomous nature of these network components, global coordination is necessary to keep the overall Internet operational. For example, global technical standardization ensures interoperability; cybersecurity governance maintains stability and authentication; and centralized coordination ensures that each Internet name and number is globally unique. These, and other tasks necessary to keep the Internet operational, as well as the substantive public policy issues that arise around these functions, are collectively referred to as “global Internet governance.” Efforts to study and practice Internet governance start, virtually without exception, from the premise that the Internet is governed by an innovative, unusual (perhaps unique) ‘multistakeholder’ model. (deNardis, 2013)
The economic effects of compatibility standards in information technology have been studied since before the advent of Web (David and Greenstein 1990). The open publication of Internet standards with minimal intellectual property restrictions has enabled rapid innovation and has generally produced the market effect of full competition among companies developing products based on these standards. Conversely, more proprietary standards can restrict competition, be used as non-tariff barriers to trade or, arguably, slow innovation.
Historically ICANN and its
sub-organisations were left to
run the Internet after the
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
More details: The IFWP (International Forum on the White Paper) was a series of international workshops designed to bring together the various diverse stakeholder groups and experts in corporate law and trusts to:
identify and articulate the parties, issues, and views; and
prepare a model, set of common principles, structure and general charter provisions for the formation of an Internet Assigned Numbers Corporation (IANA) or Trust to meet the specifications of the June 5, 1998 U.S. Department of Commerce Statement of Policy on the Management of Internet Names and Addresses.
Culminating this process, on September 17, 1998, IANA and Network Solutions, Inc., jointly published a draft proposal (Iteration 4) for a California non-profit public benefit corporation called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, to coordinate the administration of domain names and IP addresses.
In the first week
of October, 1998, the
For the majority of its history, the Internet has been governed in a piecemeal fashion by a variety of standard-setting and other technical bodies, and by private companies performing key roles as network operators and information intermediaries. The power of epistemic communities to shape governance.
This legacy has generated two predominant characteristics of Internet governance arrangements:
First, with a few notable exceptions, states have been either generally uninvolved or involved only as participants without superordinate decision-making authority.
Second, decision making for Internet governance has typically been driven by technical and market considerations.
The general lack of an authoritative role for states, suggests that the Internet is an example of multi-stakeholder governance
Internet governance viewed as a monolithic system. Policy deliberations and scholarship examining multi-stakeholderism
have analogously sought a uniform definition of what counts as participatory and diverse governance.
Various definitions reflect historically specific power struggles and stakeholder interests.
Kofi Annan established a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) as a response to open issues over control of the Internet left unresolved at the WSIS.
The WGIG — which included 40 participants from government, the private sector and civil society — was charged with developing a definition of Internet governance:
“Internet governance is 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 programmes that shape the evolution and use of the Internet” (WGIG 2005).
There was mounting political concern over the unique
and enduring role of the
to perform the global administration of Internet names and numbers. The states represented in the WSIS/WGIG process were primarily
concerned with what they perceived as unilateral American control of the Internet.
The ITU, the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies, was also increasingly stressing its
intergovernmental legitimacy as a rationale for attempting to take a greater role in both the administration of names and numbers
and the governance of Internet standards, to counter the prevailing administrative role of ICANN and the predominance of private-industry
contributions in various standard-setting entities, including the IETF. Within this context, the WGIG definition conveyed some strong normative positions.
The definition assigned an Internet governance role to “Governments,” commensurate with global interest in greater multilateral administration and
potentially a unique role for intergovernmental entities such as the United Nations in Internet oversight.
The composition of the WGIG did not represent key constituencies with a stake in the outcome of the definition or those with responsibility for Internet governance in practice.
The UN group did not significantly include the input of large Internet users (for example, corporations relying on the Internet for financial and business transactions and basic operations);
private sector companies involved in provisioning Internet products or providing infrastructure; or any representatives from the leading standard-setting and administrative entities
operationally responsible for the security and stability of the Internet.
Many of these officials
represented countries —
Thus, the formulation of an international definition of multi-stakeholderism was arguably not a multi-stakeholder effort.
The convocation of the United Nations’ Internet
Governance Forum (IGF) — first held
calls for a diminution of US coordination of certain Internet administrative functions and American resistance to these recommendations. The IGF was formed to create an international space for
multi-stakeholder dialogue about Internet policy. These multi-stakeholder gatherings have been distinct from the actual practice of Internet governance; rather, they are deliberations about Internet policy.
But standards can have public interest effects and are established not by legislatures but by private standards setting institutions
The evolution of the
Internet’s architecture and of Internet governance is creating more complicated
conditions. A single device obviously integrates numerous functions – voice,
video, text messaging, imaging, and is able to connect to multiple networks
like GSM cellular networks, Wi-Fi, or global
positioning systems (
The complexity in Internet standards environments is accompanied by the use of intellectual property laden standards as alternative trade barriers in global markets (Gibson 2007). The extent to which intellectual property rights are increasingly embedded in Internet-related standards, and the empirical implications of this phenomenon, is a critical topic of inquiry for Internet governance.
A related question involves copyright protection for Internet-related standards. Do standards-setting organizations have adequate incentives to develop standards without recourse to copyright protection of the standards, once developed? Because standards have to be universally adopted to achieve desired interoperability, copyright restrictions can amount to monopoly rents that exploit the principle of universality. In the context of Internet standardization, traditional protocols, such as those developed by the IETF and W3C, are freely available without copyright protections. Other standards, such as those developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), impose a charge for accessing a standard or for reproducing the standards.
There are at least three examples of private industry Internet governance at the level of infrastructure management that could benefit from additional research and empirical analysis: 1) private sector Internet backbone peering agreements; 2) network management via deep packet inspection; and 3) private industry use of trade secrecy laws to control the flow of information online.
Internet’s backbone infrastructure. The Internet is a collection of IP networks owned and operated by private telecommunications companies such as British Telecom, Korea Telecom, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and many others. These companies operate hundreds of thousands of miles of transmission facilities, including terrestrial fiber optics, microwave facilities, submarine fiber cable, and satellite links. These backbone facilities aggregate Internet traffic and transmit bits over backbones at rates upwards of 40 Gbps (e.g. OC‐768 fiber optic transmission). For the Internet to successfully operate, Internet backbones obviously must interconnect.
Independent commercial networks conjoin
either at private Internet connection points between two companies or at multi‐party Internet exchange
points (IXPs). Information from one service provider’s network
flows seamlessly through another provider’s network through high‐speed fiber optic cable connected to the shared switching
equipment at IXPs. These IXPs
are the physical junctures where different companies' backbone trunks
interconnect, exchange Internet packets and route them toward their appropriate
destinations. For example, Google, Sprint, Level3, and Yahoo all connect
Other interconnection points involve private arrangements between two telecommunications companies to connect their respective IP networks for the purpose of exchanging Internet traffic. Making this connection at private interconnection points requires physical interconnectivity and equipment but it also involves agreements about cost, responsibilities, and performance.
There are generally two types of agreements ‐ peering agreements and transit agreements. "Peering agreements" refer to mutually beneficial arrangements whereby no money is exchanged among companies agreeing to exchange traffic at interconnection points. In a transit agreement, one telecommunications company agrees to pay a backbone provider for interconnection. Transit agreements often involve a smaller company paying a larger company in exchange for this private interconnection.
The motivation for peering agreements has an obvious economic as well as technical basis. Service providers normally require a number of interconnection points to the global Internet to provide adequate service to their customers.
If a new company, or a small company, solicits a peering agreement from a large backbone provider, one can easily envision why the larger company would not find the agreement mutually beneficially. The larger would not gain much compared to the smaller or start-up company. So there is incentive to have the net dominated by large corporate players who generate serious money/profits.
International Trade, States and DPI
Deep packet Inspection: DPI views all of an Internet user’s activity including the content of web searches, file transfers, blog postings, and email. This type of network intrusion into information payload raises a variety of questions.
The most publicized instances of DPI have
involved the ad‐serving practices of
service providers in
When network providers use DPI to identify and prioritize certain types of traffic on their own networks, no third party becomes systematically aware of this intervention (and presumably to undermine net neutrality)
The use of trade secrecy laws in Internet search and other information mediation is another emerging area that is of concern. This is a concern particularly within architectural components of the Internet that organize or manipulate the flow of information. Search engines provide the best example of this because they use trade‐secret protected techniques related to the algorithmic sorting and ranking of information. Companies like Google often invoke trade secrecy to protect themselves, particularly in litigation matters, from disclosing information about how these technologies and algorithms work
Now challenged in the EU courts. Due to many complaints about how Google in particular creates the algorithms that determine which web pages come up first in a search, companies have taken cases to the EU courts to argue that there is a complete lack of transparency by Google as to how they programme their searching systems and that the system may not be fair i.e. again net neutral (in another sense than simply neutrality with regard to web access and speed)
all areas of Internet governance, regardless of dominant actor, contain an inherent tension between forces striving for interoperability and openness and forces striving for proprietary approaches and information enclosure (Werbach 2008).
This inherent conflict enters, to a greater or lesser degree, nearly all of the current controversies in telecommunications policy, critical Internet resources, security, standards, and intellectual property rights. This tension is especially present in private industry Internet governance contexts. Trade secrecy in information intermediation is inherently closed. The possible escalation of interconnection patents at IXPs is another move toward more proprietary norms. The tradition of Internet designers has been to publicize information about the decisions that led to design choices and administrative procedures. Private industry Internet governance topics are much less transparent. The implication is that there could be a resurgence of proprietary values and a diminishment of Internet governance transparency.
This then is a deep-level challenge to the utopian hope that the Internet was transparent, neutral open and free to use for the public benefit – that Lessig and Benkler argue for as opposed to Mueller and de Nardis who, though they would like to see an open net, are not convinced that it is going to happen when the direction of development is towards closure, lack of transparency and corporate control.
The symbolic and practical implications of this American oversight have created pressure for greater internationalization of this narrow function and
have more generally created tension in Internet governance
debates. Concerns about
The Rise of Internet law as the struggle between International virtual commons and National interests:
(Wu on Net governance, p.30)
The tale of french law over yahoo - Knobel, nazis, yahoo and the net as national/International
Current thinking on multi-stakeholder-ism:
Kleinwachter: Two events, which made headlines in the digital world in 2016, will
probably frame the Internet Governance Agenda for 2017.
IANA Transition and the Chinese Cybersecurity Law
The IANA transition stands for a multistakeholder bottom up policy development process. The
Chinese law stands for a top-down governmental approach. The new ICANN Bylaws
are probably the most advanced version of a multistakeholder
mechanism for a free, open and unfragmented Internet.
The Chinese cybersecurity law is probably the most
outspoken version of how a country can control the Internet within its
territorial borders. Here we have a global multistakeholder
network. There we have a national government. And it is not only the Chinese
government which introduces strong national Internet legislation. It is
The short answer to this rhetorical question is, unfortunately "Yes". Yes, we will see a continuation of a chilly "Cold Cyberwar". Yes, we will see that more governments, in the name of security, will restrict fundamental individual human rights as privacy and freedom of expression. And yes, we will see that more governments want to re-nationalize the global cyberspace and erect borders around their "national Internet segment" where they can control individuals, private corporations, personal data as well as the flow and the content of communication.
However, the short answer tells only half of the truth. The reality is more complex. To describe the basic cyberconflict of our time as "Democracies vs. Dictatorships" would be an oversimplification. Yes, there are conflicts between political structures, value systems, and ideologies. And yes, there are conflicts between borderless spaces (managed by multistakeholder networks) and bordered places (managed by hierarchically organized states). But the truth is, that there are hierarchies in networks and networks in hierarchies. And there is no 100 percent democracy on one side and 100 percent Dictatorship on the other side.
There are western governments, which prefer strong Internet regulation, argue that cybersecurity is more important than data protection and reduce their commitment to the multistakeholder model to the technical management of Internet resources as domain names, IP addresses or Internet protocols. On the other hand, the Chinese government has recognized that the concept of sovereignty in cyberspace, as it is pushed forward by president Xi, has to take into consideration also the role of non-state actors. Critical observers recognized that during the 3rd high-level Wuzhen Conference in November 2016 Chinese officials introduced the terminology of "multi-party governance", which is the Chinese version of the multistakeholder model. "Multi-party Internet governance" invites the Chinese private sector, technical community, and even civil society to participate in Internet policy making. How far this will go in practice remains to be seen, but it is an interesting move in an ideologically overloaded Internet Governance language.
With other words, what we saw in 2016 and what we will see in 2017 is a growing mix of approaches with a broad spectrum from a full functioning multistakeholder model as the new ICANN after the IANA transition to a rather rigid national legislation as it is symbolized in the new Chinese cybersecurity law.
Multi-national Corporation, International Trade and the Internet:
Global flows of goods, capital, people and technology are leading to convergence across countries in the organization of economic activities Another view is that the impact of these forces on individual countries will vary according to the economic, political and social context of the country, and as a result, there will remain significant national differences in economic organization.
the global environment level, processes such as
globalization of production and markets, multinational corporation (
In addition, there is a global flow of information about “best practices” or effective e-business models produced by the IT industry, consultancies, academics and the
business press - the global e-business movement. The intermediating factors between the global environment and outcomes refer to national factors which constrain or enhance innovation outcomes.
The first is the national environment, including wealth, industry structure, information infrastructure, financial systems, human resources, social and cultural factors, and consumer preferences.
The second is national policy, including liberalization of telecommunications and IT markets, government investment in information infrastructure, and regulations such as
consumer protection and intellectual property rights protection.
The global diffusion of e-business is a process driven by a variety of forces.
1) the strategies of multinational corporations and the related growth of global competition,
2) the development of global production networks,
3) international trade liberalization regimes such as the World Trade Organization,
4) the creation of a low-cost global information and communications infrastructure, and
5) an “e-business movement” driven by the IT industry and various opinion leaders.
MNCs are powerful global institutions that drive the diffusion of new technologies and business practices in two ways.
1) they bring resources, including capital, knowledge and their own IT-based business practices, wherever they operate and diffuse these resources to their employees
and to local firms with which they do business.
2) MNCs bring competition to local markets, creating pressure for local firms to adopt these technologies and business practices in order to survive.
3) They drive e-business diffusion through their coordination of global production networks. Production in manufacturing industries such as autos, electronics, textiles and toys has extended
across national borders and become increasingly globalized or regionalized. During the last two decades,
global production networks have expanded into developing regions such as
4) The integration of countries into global production networks often involves the adoption of e-business as a condition for participation.
5) Institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have been instrumental in creating more open rules and effective regulations for trade, investment, telecommunications and intellectual property.
6) The WTO has extended global trade rules to include services, such as financial services and telecommunications, helping to provide a better technical and financial infrastructure to
7) The ITU has promoted telecommunications liberalization and the expansion of low-cost telecommunications, wireless and Internet services to developing countries. Lower costs and greater diffusion of telecommunications and the Internet have facilitated the global expansion of e-business and also supported IT-enabled business strategies such as offshore outsourcing of business operations.
8) Under the WTO agreements on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) set common international rules for intellectual property protection. These are important in building the necessary confidence for intellectual property holders to provide more content online, and encourage greater production of intellectual property worldwide.
MNCs try to standardize internal
practices worldwide and push their suppliers and partners to align processes
and technologies with those of the
By 2016, there will be 3
billion Internet users globally—almost half the world’s population. The Internet
economy will reach $4.2 trillion in the G-20 economies. If it were a
national economy, the Internet economy would rank in the world’s top
five, behind only the
up to 8 percent of