The challenges and controversy surrounding the idea of internet regulation

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The challenges and controversy surrounding the idea of internet regulation

Starting with the technical design, the early history of internet technology, and internet-related decision-making Braman,the trajectory was set for both the kinds of questions being asked and the kinds of disciplinary approaches used in IG research.

Conceptually, the field has been dominated by legal scholarship, and by research based in international relations and institutional economics theory, most of which is focused on the role of the nation state in the management of critical internet resources also see DeNardis, The mainstream view of IG research is being increasingly criticised for its narrow focus on formal institutions, the role of the state, and for missing the mark on what constitutes governance in a networked environment.

Van Eeten and Mueller, for example, suggest that the scope of IG research is much wider than what is being labeled as such. They argue that researchers working in areas of telecommunication policy, information security, and cyberlaw all do IG research, even though they are avoiding the label.

Substantively, they call to study the economics and practices of organisations that are engaged in managing information flows on the internet, be it in names and numbers, security, or content filtering.

In a similar vein, DeNardishas criticised mainstream IG research for largely overlooking private arrangements of power when it comes to routing, interoperability, standard setting or content filtering online. Raymond and DeNardis, taking a rather techno-centric view, have argued for a broader umbrella for IG studies — one that would expose those private arrangements of power in IG.

Substantively, they identify a series of institutions that host decision-making activities e. While the call for expanding the IG label warrants thoughtful consideration, the newly proposed directions remain conceptually and substantively focused on the institutional level of analysis.

Indeed, focusing on the institutional or organisational levels of analysis enables the conceptual interrogation both in terms of international relations or institutional economics theories. However, the focus on institutions as agents largely overlooks the mundane practices that make those institutions tick, thus leaving important blind spots in both conceptual and substantive understanding of the practices and power arrangements of IG.

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Moreover, the institutional focus obscures the agency of technology designers, policy-makers, and users as those interact, in a distributed fashion, with technologies, rules, and regulations, leading to unintended consequences with systemic effects Epstein, ; Musiani, Tackling the macro questions of politics and power related to IG requires unpacking the micro practices of governance as mechanisms of distributed, semi-formal or reflexive coordination, private ordering, and use of internet resources.

It is this focus on practices and routines, discourses and design that makes us talk about the doing of internet governance: In the next section we explain how an STS lens can help addressing some of the blind spots left by institutional and state-centric takes on IG, including functional and structural biases, and how it can foreground the agency of human actors.

We will then conclude with presenting papers in this special issue and articulating how they help moving the field of IG research forward. In contrast to classical social theory, which is at the basis of international relations and institutional economics approaches, this perspective does not assume the existence of such an order that needs to be analytically re-constructed Wagner,p.

For the field of IG, such an approach to the study of social order implies new ways to question, and re-assemble what we think of as the internet as in, the set of technologies and protocols and of governance as in, broad processes of social order.

Second, the sensibility for social order as continuous and contested processes translates into a growing attention to the mundane practices of all those involved in providing and maintaining, hacking and undermining, developing and testing, or simply using the network of networks Musiani,thus expanding the notion of governance in IG.

As such, at an analytical level, borrowing from the rich STS tradition of studying the scientific enterprise e. Thus, IG as a continuously emerging and dissolving order, in this view, is — rephrasing John Lawp.

Instead, STS approaches mostly consider that not only is it not necessary to provide one precise definition and perimeter of IG, but that the assumptions derived from this operation may go to the detriment of apprehending how the practice of internet governance is enacted, in pervasive, networked and often invisible ways.

The aspects of doing IG highlighted in STS-informed scholarship start with drastically different conceptual frameworks and lean on specific approaches to research cases, sites, and questions.

Below, we unpack each one of those key aspects.

The challenges and controversy surrounding the idea of internet regulation

Technical and political governance are becoming more and more intertwined. The core issue for scholars of IG at the present stage is to acknowledge not only the plurality of these modes of governance, but the fact that they cannot be fully separated.

Acknowledging the diverse origins of norms relevant for the use and design of the internet, most STS-informed IG researchers base their understanding of governance in ordering instead of regulation, management or control.

Agency of non-human actors and infrastructures as loci of mediation. IG takes shape through a myriad of infrastructures, devices, data fluxes and technical architectures that are often discreet and invisible, yet nevertheless crucial in subtending building the increasingly public and articulate network of networks.

Laura DeNardisp. Mundane practices and agency of human actors. Contrary to the institutional approaches to IG, STS-informed scholarship acknowledges the role of invisible, mundane, and taken-for-granted practices in the constitution of design, regulation, and use of technology.

It calls the attention to reflexive acts of individuals in articulating internet standards Braman,the social aspects of crafting and enacting internet-related policy Epstein, ; Kuerbis,as well as institutionalisation of non-traditional forms of participation in discourse about IG issues i.

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As such it pays the necessary attention to the social - and not just political - aspects of the socio-technical systems of the internet.

STS-informed approaches to IG analyse the structuring and performative effects of controversies on governance. Most prominently, controversies around claims made by different actors or groups about doing IG contribute to the creation of different worlds in which specific notions of governance make sense.

In particular, they help enriching and revisiting the concept of multi-stakeholderism Malcolm, For example, understanding IG through the lens of Michel Callon et al.

If the role of the private sector is more and more important in internet governance arrangements, as it is increasingly widely acknowledged, the technology-embedded nature of its intervention can be brought to the foreground by STS methods.

Contributions to this special issue We view this special issue as an important milestone in the broader intellectual project seeking to leverage STS-informed conceptual and empirical toolsets to push the boundary of IG research.

This work does not wish to directly criticise or question mainstream IG research. Instead it seeks to add to existing scholarship by focusing on the mundane, situated practices of designing, maintaining, regulating, and using the internet - the aspects of governance that are often overlooked or taken for granted.

The papers in this issue cover a broad area of doing IG ranging from concepts and modes of internet ordering, through investigating the link between politics of internet infrastructure and infrastructure as internet politics, to unpacking processes of discourse production and issue framing in IG.

Taken together they offer conceptual and empirical contributions that we hope will fuel discussions on how we think about both internet and governance in the context of IG.Claimants Mr Pouvin and his wife Ms Dijoux entered into a mortgage loan contract with Mr Pouvin's employer, Electricité de France (EDF).

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controversies around. such as the Internet, spurred news organizations to introduce online. I understand why you think it’s bad to lump all regulations together in the category “regulation”, but in this case, I think it sort of makes sense.

To some, the idea of regulation is more complex. “Since when has the internet not been regulated? It’s simply regulated poorly,” says Douglas Rushkoff, a media commentator who was one of the earliest to spot the potential of the internet in the early s.

Back then, he says, “we cyberpunks saw the law as the enemy. Topic – Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections..

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