Efforts to study and practice Internet governance start, virtually without exception, from the premise that the Internet is currently governed by an innovative, unusual (perhaps unique) ‘multi-stakeholder’ model. Preserving that model is a primary goal for the broader Internet community as well as for many governments, though not for all.
This panel explicitly questions: (1) the coherence of the multi-stakeholder model at a conceptual level; (2) the accuracy of the term as a descriptor for Internet governance broadly conceived; and (3) the appropriateness of the model for every issue area that might plausibly be included under the heading of Internet governance.
Existing examples of multi-stakeholder Internet governance vary in both the composition of stakeholders and in the nature of authority relations between them. Accordingly, greater precision is needed if the model is to aid innovation.
While existing Internet governance arrangements are based on a primarily private form of governance exemplifying a hybrid mixture of for-profit and non-profit entities, the appropriate distribution of responsibilities between corporations, civil society and the state is contested. It may also differ between different dimensions of what could plausibly be included under the heading of Internet governance.