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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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The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance

The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance

Chapter:
(p.129) 5 The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance
Source:
The Real Cyber War
Author(s):

Shawn M. Powers

Michael Jablonski

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252039126.003.0006

This chapter examines how multistakeholder institutions reflect dominant political and/or economic interests, arguing that the discourse of multistakeholderism is used to legitimize arrangements benefiting powerful, established actors like the United States and its robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. After a brief discussion of what is actually at stake in debates over internet governance, the chapter provides an overview of the origins and theory of the multistakeholder process. It then considers how seemingly participatory, inclusive, and consensus-driven decision-making structures provide legitimacy for existing political and economic interests by using three case studies: ICANN, the Internet Society (ISOC), and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It shows that, by incentivizing inclusion and consensus, multistakeholder processes risk stifling legitimate dissent from external actors who have no interest in lending legitimacy to the facade of an apolitical negotiation.

Keywords:   multistakeholder institutions, multistakeholderism, Information and Communication Technology, internet governance, multistakeholder process, legitimacy, ICANN, Internet Society, Internet Engineering Task Force

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