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The Real Cyber WarThe Political Economy of Internet Freedom$
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Shawn M. Powers and Michael Jablonski

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039126

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039126.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 25 May 2020

The Economics of Internet Connectivity

The Economics of Internet Connectivity

(p.99) 4 The Economics of Internet Connectivity
The Real Cyber War

Shawn M. Powers

Michael Jablonski

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the link between information commodification and structuration by focusing on the economics of internet connectivity and the fight over which international institutions are responsible for the regulation of digital information flows. It also discusses the uneven relationship between connectivity and economic growth as well as the economic motivations behind criticism of the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) potential role in internet governance. The chapter first considers how the U.S. government, with the aid of the private sector, wired the world and profited handsomely as a result. It then explains how economies of scale strongly favor established actors in the Internet economy, challenging the idea that increased connectivity is equally profitable for all. It also looks at the controversy surrounding the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), with particular emphasis on how the negotiations were shaped by economic concerns. Finally, it describes economic externalities, the basis for a “network effect” theory, and suggests an alternative framing to the neoliberal, modernization, and “information sovereignty” discourses that often dominate debates surrounding internet governance.

Keywords:   information commodification, internet connectivity, digital information flow, economic growth, International Telecommunication Union, internet governance, internet economy, World Conference on International Telecommunications, information sovereignty

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