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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, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance

The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance

(p.129) 5 The Myth of Multistakeholder Governance
The Real Cyber War

Shawn M. Powers

Michael Jablonski

University of Illinois Press

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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