The creation of ICANN was sought by the United States government to promote international cooperation in the governance of the Internet based on a bottom-up system in which government intervention was limited, if not eliminated. However, as the Internet has become a global phenomenon, this initiative has faced increasing opposition from the international community. As we have shown in this article, the evolution of ICANN reveals how it slowly departed from its mere technical role into a more political one, in which all groups and constituencies try to impose their preferences. During the reform movement initiated from inside ICANN, different constituencies tried to exploit the situation by gaining power positions in the new structure. The political strength of different groups and constituencies reversed some of the initial reforms and produced a totally new structure. Reform attempts from inside ICANN were challenged by the international community. These efforts concentrated on changing the main structure of ICANN into a multilateral organization controlled by international governments and removing the direct control of ICANN from the United States government. In the end, even though the proposals seem to look for different structures to regulate domain names and numbers on the Internet, they represent a political struggle between opposite points of view.


Law and Economics

Date of this Version

August 2008