International Studies Association


Apr 09 2021


08:00 AM - 09:15 AM

ISA Panel: Web of the Free or Web of the Sovereigns

Analyzing Contending Forces and Current Conflicts in International Internet Governance

Sponsored By

Chairs and Discussants


Abstract and Keywords

Over the last three decades, the Internet has served as a driver of globalization and has been regarded by many as an effective tool to spread the liberal international order (“web of the free”). While euphoric expectations have been challenged from the outset, especially recent developments have fed the concerns that the free flow of data and information might be increasingly restricted in the name of so-called information sovereignty. On the one hand, leading autocratic regimes have continuously sought to control online communication flows in order to uphold sovereignty and to secure regime stability. On the other hand, also democratic regimes tend to regulatory alignments in different Internet public policies made at the national (or supranational) level. While it is questionable that these trends will lead to technical fragmentation on the network layer of Internet architecture, with growing concerns about (foreign) disinformation or cyber-attacks we might well observe further interferences with global data flows on the content layer. Against this backdrop, the panel gathers papers that deal with political structures, processes and discourses in relation to information sovereignty, both from a comparative or an international governance perspective, and discuss the potential effects on the global Internet.

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