Truly a World-Wide Web? Regulators of the Internet and Society

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.1.01 (Tower One)
Christian Ewert, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Celine Kaufmann, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Martino Maggetti, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
The invention and development of the Internet constitutes one of the most prominent technological advances in human history, and yet its technical regulation is done by very few specialized organizations like ICANN and the Internet Engineering Task Force. Given that its governance regime is technocratic and highly transnationalized, it is important to investigate how the regulators of the Internet relate to its users, stakeholders and society in general. In this paper, we therefore analyze the regulatory responsibilities of the governance bodies of the Internet, and to what extent public authorities, business organizations, and civil society can, or cannot, influence them.

To do so, we will describe the regulatory activity, membership base, and internal structure of the ten most important regulators of the Internet. On this basis, we will firstly examine whether a strong participation of representative institutions, involving delegated public authority, is a necessary condition for Internet regulators to exercise political authority on their own. And secondly, we will study the influence of private bodies like corporations and civil society organizations within this regime. This will allow us to determine the extent to which the access to the technical regulation of the Internet is actually restricted, and whether its legitimacy is based on democratic participation and representation.