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Governing the Internet

Chapter 6

Presents the two major approaches to internet governance:  multistakeholderism and cyber sovereignty.  


The pros and cons of each approach are presented, and the Realist, liberal internationalist, and Constructivist paradigms are applied in evaluating them.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this chapter, students will be able to:

  • Define governance and relate it to ideas of power, sovereignty, and rule-making

  • Describe multistakeholder governance in internet regulation

  • Name major agreements and events in the evolution of multistakeholder governance

  • Describe the players who participate in multistakeholder governance in the internet area, and how this differs from other types of international governance

chapter 6 governance.jpg

Questions for Discussion


In his work, Klimburg describes cyberspace as a four-layered pyramid with the pyramid standing on its head.He describes the first layer as ‘the bones of cyberspace’ – the bones are the hardware of the physical layer, such as undersea cables.


The second layer, which he describes as ‘the neurons and nervous system of cyberspace’ is described as ‘the coded behavior of the domain:the various computer protocols and software programs.”


The third layer, which he compares to human muscle systems, is data – business documents, and scientific inquiries, and all of the information which the internet houses.


Finally, the largest layer is the social layer, which he describes as ‘the actual internet of people, the total sum of human actions and aspirations in cyberspace.” (29)


As you think about these four layers -- hardware, software, data, and social media –

  1. Which layers do you think should be regulated by a particular state as a matter of sovereignty, and

  2. Which layers would need to be regulated internationally through either multilateralism or a multistakeholder approach.

  3. Also, how optimistic or pessimistic are you about the ability to define and create norms regarding state behavior in relation to each of these layers of the internet?

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