Abstract: This essay explores the democratic and legal risks related to the
emerging situation of global Internet governance. This situation can be
considered as an outcome of the 1997 US Federal Government's policy aims
towards privatisation and self-regulation of the technical management of the
increasingly global Internet at that time. Thus far there is little empirical
knowledge available about the nature and functioning of the various relatively
unknown international organisations that are involved in the technical
development and management of the Internet. Attention in this respect seems to
be exclusively focused on only one of these organisations, the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which continues to have a
unique relationship with the US Federal Government's Department of Commerce.
The empirical question of who actually regulates and manages the Internet
infrastructure further rises in importance if we consider that the technical
development of the Internet might not be a 'neutral' development but could
involve the building in of regulatory norms into the technology.