Discussion Papers

Annette Hillebrand, Franz Büllingen

Internet-Governance - Politiken und Folgen der institutionellen Neuordnung der Domainverwaltung durch ICANN
Nr. 218 / April 2001


The implementation of the new Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) highlights the problems related to the present transition of the global internet. As the so-called Domain Names of the Internet are becoming more and more important as marketing instruments, it is a crucial factor for the commercial success of a company to register the brand names of the company as a domain or vice versa to establish a domain name as a brand.

The aim of this study is to examine the success conditions for the new governance model of "co-regulation". Furthermore, ICANN´s regulatory decisions and their consequences for the development of the Internet will be analysed. Finally, potential conflicts resulting of the interdependencies between national competencies, global requirements and user interests will be highlighted. As the implementation of ICANN is considered to be an evolutionary process, only a first stock-taking can be done within the study. Nevertheless, it will be possible to derive crucial and stable future trends .

The main task of ICANN is the regulation of technical questions related to DNS. ICANN perceives itself as a pure administrative organisation that works on the technical management and not on political problems of the DNS. However, a closer examination of the effects of ICANN’s decisions, whether intended or non-intended, reveals other tendencies. Although ICANN can not be considered as a new Internet government, its effects for example on the protection of trademarks, the rights for the use of country code domains and domain commerce go fare beyond mere technical effects.

The expectations regarding legitimacy and transparency that have been related to the implementation of ICANN are very high. The study shows that the process of defining rules and decision-making procedures is not yet finished. At present, the organisation still remains in a "trial and error" stage.

ICANN is confronted with political, economical, and social discussions between users, the internet industry and governmental organisations. The power of ICANN to make far reaching decisions that affect the traditional users` "community", the industry and political actors might lead to further conflicts in the future. However, there are hardly any signs for a complete change of the historic Internet governance model that is basically self-regulated. Whether the balance between private and public actors will be stable in the future and whether ICANN´s integrative governance model will be a robust model for a more and more commercialised Internet remains to be seen.

Only German language version available.

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