Multi-stakeholder Muddle: Finding Accountability in Global Internet Governance

By Jack Karsten


This paper describes the increasing complexity of Internet governance and recommends policy proposals for addressing related issues in the near term. The Internet began with networked mainframe computers at research universities in the United States, and grew to cover billions of users and devices around the world. As the Internet expands, there have been various attempts to formalize a governance structure that includes all current and potential stakeholders. The United States government historically served a special oversight role through its contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The contract is set to expire in anticipation of a multi-stakeholder model that distributes authority to interested corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations. However, this multi-stakeholder model lacks specific safeguards that prevent stakeholders from abusing their power. Instead of transferring authority to the new governing body, the United States should continue its oversight role until a multi-stakeholder body demonstrates an ability to cope with governance challenges.

About the Author:

Jack Karsten is a second-year graduate student in the International Science and Technology Policy program at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics at Boston College. Jack has completed internships in the United States Senate, the Council on Competitiveness, and the Department of State. Jack also plays viola in the George Washington University Orchestra. His current focus is on innovation policy, and how technological change enhances economic growth. With his master’s degree, Jack wants to communicate technology research and development priorities with policymakers.

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