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Internet policy implementation and the interplay between global and regional levels : the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the European Union (EU)

Christou, George and Simpson, Seamus (2004) Internet policy implementation and the interplay between global and regional levels : the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the European Union (EU). [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract

By the early 1990s, a series of key technological breakthroughs had facilitated the emergence of the Internet as a sophisticated and fairly easy to use communications system whose global commercial and wider social potential became increasingly apparent to business and governmental interests. As such, the ownership and future management of the Internet’s lynchpin technical resources and functions became a topic which engaged communications policymakers and firms at the international level. The result was the creation, in 1999, of a global organisation, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for these purposes. This paper explores the emergence and performance of ICANN as a new, global level, governance organisation for key parts of the Internet. In particular, it explores the brief history of the relationship between ICANN and the European Union with two goals in mind. First, it aims to illustrate the very limited extent to which the EU was involved in shaping the emergence of ICANN, as a consequence of a short but intense period of negotiations which took place between a quite diverse range of technical, commercial and governmental stakeholders in the latter part of the 1990s. Second, it illustrates the extent to which ICANN’s governance agenda and policy-making “mechanics” have been accepted and implemented by the EU. To assist in these tasks, the paper employs a theoretical framework based on the literature on ‘norms’, drawing on, in particular, the work of Sikkink and Finnemore (1998) and Checkel (1997, 2001).

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