What is Internet Governance?

Internet governance refers to the rules, policies, standards and practices that coordinate and shape global cyberspace.

The Internet is a vast network of independently-managed networks, woven together by globally standardized data communication protocols (primarily, Internet Protocol, TCP, UDPDNS and BGP). The common adoption and use of these protocols unified the world of information and communications like never before. Millions of digital devices and massive amounts of data, software applications, and electronic services became compatible and interoperable. The Internet created a new environment, a complex and dynamic “cyberspace.”

While Internet connectivity generated innovative new services, capabilities and unprecedented forms of sharing and cooperation, it also created new forms of crime, abuse, surveillance and social conflict. Internet governance is the process whereby cyberspace participants resolve conflicts over these problems and develop a workable order.

The Forms of Internet Governance

We say Internet governance and not government because many issues in cyberspace are not and probably cannot be handled by the traditional territorial national institutions. Governance implies a polycentric, less hierarchical order; it requires transnational cooperation amongst standards developers, network operators, online service providers, users, governments and international organizations if it is to solve problems while retaining the openness and interoperability of cyberspace. For better or worse, national policy plays an important role in shaping the Internet, but the rise of cyberspace has produced, and will continue to produce, new institutions and governance arrangements that respond to its unique characteristics.

IGP’s analysis of the Internet governance space is informed by institutional economics, which identifies three broad categories of governance: markets, hierarchies and networks. Markets are driven by private transactions and the price mechanism. Hierarchies govern interactions through orders or compulsion by an authority, such as law enforcement by a state, a binding treaty, or the organizational control of a firm Networks are semi-permanent, voluntary negotiation systems that allow interdependent actors to opt for collaboration or unilateral action in the absence of an overarching authority. Internet governance involves a complex mixture of all three governance structures, including various forms of self-governance by market actors.

Cybersecurity institutions conceptually-4

IGP's contributions to Internet Governance


Cybersecurity and Internet governance workshop

IGP proposals guide ICANN process on jurisdiction

Paper on Digital Object Architecture and the IoT

Paper on Domain names and content regulation


ICANN reform proposals developed by cross-community working groups


IGP paper proposes divesting IANA from ICANN

NTIA transition announcement; transition linked to accountability reforms

NetMundial meeting in Brazil

Mueller appointed to IANA Stewardship Coordination Group


Mueller elected to ARIN AC

Snowden revelations lead to Montevideo statement by Internet community

ICANN “accountability meltdown” series



Internet shutdown in Egypt discredits US law

Nortel sale of IPv4 address block to Microsoft bypasses ARIN

OECD Internet Policy Principles - civil society dissent

UN CIRP proposal to enter Internet Governance

New gTLD program battles


Battles over Copyright protection

Deep packet inspection research funded by NSF

Networks and States book published

Work on routing security begins


IGP helps shape the GNSO reforms

IGP moves into IP address policy

Assessing the ICANN-Commerce Dept JPA


Work on Root signing for DNSSEC

Battles over Whois and privacy

Paper on Net neutrality

Challenging the XXX decision


Proposal to build an IGF

First UN IGF

First Giganet Symposium

IGP calls for IANA transition, 10 years early


IGP formed to participate in WSIS

Paper analyzing IG landscape

Proposal for a Framework Convention in IG

1997 - 1998

Formation of ICANN; we were there