Jefferson Rebuffed -- The United States and the Future of Internet Governance
Working Paper RWP06-018, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Author: Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, Faculty Affiliate, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program
Over the last several years, many have called for an internationalization of Internet governance in general, and Internet naming and numbering in particular. The multi-year WSIS process that culminated in November 2005 was intended to create momentum in such direction. The United States has long resisted such internationalization, fearing in particular the growing influence of China and similar nations. In September 2005, the European Union put forward a proposal which would have offered a constitutional moment for Internet governance by suggesting internationalization based on fundamental values of the Internet community. The swift rejection of the proposal by the U.S. was surprising, both from a tactical as well as — in light of its own constitutional history — a substantive viewpoint. In this article, we describe the main features of the European proposal and what it might have created. We evaluate four possible arguments explaining U.S. rejection: delegation of power, objective rights, public choice, and de-legitimization of international regimes.
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Document Length: 40 pp.