How the Internet is governed has been a question of considerable debate since its earliest days. Indeed, how diverse sets of stakeholders collaborate to manage this important global resource has an impact on the nature of the Internet as a trusted global platform for innovation, creativity, and freedom of expression. The Internet is a decentralized network of networks and those who rely on it help to define its policies.
While the Internet evolved from a number of government-funded research projects, individuals from universities and private-sector organizations led most of its early development. Since these early beginnings, management of the Internet and global Internet resources (e.g., the Domain Name System) has relied heavily upon bottom-up coordination and direct participation by those interested in and impacted by related decisions.
Over the years, this decentralized and community-driven management approach has supported the tremendous growth and innovation that has defined Internet’s success and reflects the early design choices of the technical community in the adoption and implementation of Internet standards. By 2005, what had traditionally been referred to as private, bottom-up coordination evolved into the “multistakeholder” model of Internet governance that exists today.
-Geraldine Kaye Medrocillo