Internet governance and development agenda

The article articulates the political contestations surrounding the governance of the Internet and explores how governments from the global South can challenge the dominant neo-liberal ideologies that shape the existing cornerstones of Internet governance.

Given that the Internet has emerged as a critical global public good, and  a fundamental building block for transformative change, its governance is being increasingly perceived as a critical political arena. The creation of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), following the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), is characterised by its format of 'multi-stakeholderism', which in theory opens up an opportunity for governments, civil society, business sector and inter-governmental institutions to collaborate in discussing and suggesting policies for meaningful governance of the Internet on an equal footing. However in practice, vested interests favouring weak global governance systems with minimal regulation on the business sector have led to an absence of pro-South, development actors in IGF, which has instead been captured by market-led, 'user'-oriented agenda. This article authored prior to the 'international public meeting' of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an important institution in the global Internet Governance space, in Delhi in February 2008 and the 2008 IGF in Hyderabad, tries to examine how governments of the South - especially countries like India and Brazil, with their strong developmental constituency - can challenge the neo-liberal basis currently underpinning Internet governance and claim the Internet as a commons/public good that serves development priorities, equity and justice.


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