Equity and the developing world in internet governance

12 November 2015 - A Workshop on Other in João Pessoa, Brazil


Internet governance (IG) refers to a set of institutions, principles and processes – global, regional and local – designed to address the oversight and management of key internet infrastructure: the Domain Name System, Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, and other web-based protocols. While the IANA transition process has triggered a lively debate on the contours of the “multistakeholder model”, a discussion on “equity” is yet to be had. Equity, in the context of global internet governance, could refer to two concerns: first, the equitable representation of voices and perspectives from developing countries and emerging economies, especially civil society, in IG policy debates. Who are the communities at the margins from the developing world, and how are they represented currently? Second, and equally critical, is the notion of inter-generational equity. The internet community of today is constantly evolving, bringing in new actors, constituencies and interests. Are internet governance structures well placed to absorb and accommodate new entrants who do not speak the epistemic language of domain names and protocols? If not, what are the institutional barriers preventing such adaptability? The roundtable discussion coordinated by the Centre for Communication Governance at the National Law University, Delhi is a step towards articulating equity principles, with specific reference to three existing IG structures: ICANN, the WSIS process, and the International Telecommunications Union. Discussants are expected to flag the democratic and deliberative deficit in each of these processes, offering their recommendations how to address them.

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