Neo-Liberal Globalization and Internet Governance

  • Lee H
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This research examines the dominance structure of Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in global governance under the context of world-wide social change of neo-liberal globalization since 1970s. ICANN has been managing global Internet governance on the IP numbers and the domain system root since its inception by U.S government in 1998. Yet, ICANNs role in global Internet governance goes far beyond simple technical nature and the political, economic, social, and cultural implication of its global influence is tremendous. Thus, the working of ICANN as an institute of global governance should be examined under the context of globalization. Since 1970s, we have been witnessing so-called a global age where capitalist mode of production has been widespread throughout the world and precapitalist mode of production has been more and more replaced by it. The nature of global transformation resulting from globalization has been focal point of debate among scholars concerning on the regulatory power of individual national state, the influence of transnational capital, the political dominance of transnational institutes, and the hegemony of the U.S. Focusing on these four neo-liberal agendas of globalization, this study tries to examine the nature of ICANNs global Internet governance. Today, generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) system is governed by transnational process beyond individual governments policy range. The very existence of gTLD itself may restrain national autonomy and independence of country-code TLD (ccTLD) to a great extent. This could be supported by the respective market share of gTLD and ccTLD in the global TLD market. On January 2008, the number of total gTLD registrations amounts to 96,880,000, which constitutes about 72 percent of total TLD registrations. Every registrar over the world has to pay some amount of fees related to registration to both a certain registry and ICANN. Yet, it holds that influence of transnational agency completely dominate individual governments policy autonomy. National government retains the final decision power over the management of its national ccTLD. However, even the independence and autonomy of individual national government with regard to the management of ccTLDs is basically limited in that it is guaranteed only when national agency observe specific norms and principles ICANN prescribed. The real application of Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) shows that its major concern is to protect the interest of holders of trademark or intellectual property rights. The protection of interest of transnational capital as a major concern of global Internet governance could also be found in ICANNs somewhat reluctance to introduce new TLDs between 1999 and 2000. The status of NSI or VeriSign shows another aspect of global Internet governance as a means to protect the interest of transnational capital. It seems that transnational elites exercise global hegemony through global Internet governance. However, given the U.S overwhelming influence upon major decisionmakings concerning ICANN, it also appears that the U.S guardian role makes possible the emergence of transnational elites in todays global age. Given the nature of the Internet as global common pool resources, U.S. governments ultimate control over root server system is considered more and more inappropriate by many commentators

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  • Hangwoo Lee

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