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Authors: Feinberg, Daniel
Advisors: Keohane, Robert
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: This analysis is an investigation of two technologies with global scopes and their governance regimes. The first technology is the Internet and its governance investigation focuses on ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a private nonprofit corporation based in California that holds control over the domain name system (DNS), responsible for managing the addressing system of the Internet. ICANN has puzzled scholars since its inception, as it does not quite fit traditional models of international governance institutions. As a unique governance institution, ICANN has frequently been the target of criticism, including claims of illegitimacy and calls for regime change from major state actors such as China and Russia. In attempting to better understand ICANN, key questions arise: How did a private corporation come to play such a crucial role in Internet governance? What prevents a regime change from taking place in the case of ICANN, despite widespread criticism from powerful opponents? What would have to change in order for such a regime change to occur? The second technology is that of international aviation. Its governance investigation is useful in beginning to answer these critical questions about ICANN. In the years immediately following World War II, international air travel rights were negotiated between nations through bilateral treaties. These agreements formed a highly regulated, inefficient global regime. However, by the latter half of the 20th century, this bilateral regime began to undergo a dramatic shift. This alteration occurred in response to market changes as a result of the introduction of jet aircraft. By the turn of the century, the global landscape of aviation looked very different, as countries abandoned highly regulated arrangements in favor of liberal open skies agreements. This major change in the international aviation regime can be explained through a modified version of the model of complex interdependence. Complex interdependence argues that regimes are set through a combination of factors: the power capabilities of state actors and the bargaining process of the established regime. Regimes change when those with power over the situation no longer prefer the established regime. In the case of the modified model explored herein, the key driver for regime change is technological change, as new technologies have the potential to alter preferences or power dynamics. Applying this model to aviation demonstrates the interaction of technology and regimes. This application, in turn, is useful for considering ICANN as an international regime and attempting to understand how it came to be and why it remains in power. The US control of key Internet resources gave it the power to determine a new Internet governance regime, allowing the US to formulate the concept of ICANN. The difficulty of replacing the technology underpinning the DNS has locked ICANN into its governance role. But this lock-in does not mean that an Internet governance regime change is an impossibility. Recently the debate over ICANN has resurfaced in response to issues with ICANN’s new generic top-level domain program and additional pressure from both foreign governments and the UN. However, even in the face of these political pressures, the model of complex interdependence demonstrates that it may require a major technological change to alter the Internet’s governance regime. This analysis considers possible technological changes to the Internet and the mechanisms by which such changes could uproot ICANN.
Extent: 108 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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