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Inventing the Internet: Metaphors of Globalization as Communications Technology
Unformatted Document Text:  Shah 30 intentions were translated into research objectives, at this time migrated from the National Science Foundation to the Department of Commerce, as the research/academic focus of the Internet was replaced with the view of the “Internet as a non-regulatory medium, one in which competition and consumer choice will shape the marketplace.” 14 The growing marketplace and its resultant domain name disputes were no longer seen within the purview of the NSF and it no longer wanted responsibility for managing the Internet in this context. Indeed, as the US government itself stated, “As the Internet becomes commercial, it becomes inappropriate for US research agencies (NSF and DARPA) to participate in and fund [Internet management].” (NTIA, 1998a) However, within a neoliberal market the directive was not one of shifting responsibility between state agencies but how the state would shift authority to the market. The Department of Commerce’s role was accordingly, as stipulated by the Executive Order, to create effective self-regulating market mechanisms for managing the Internet. The institutional change, therefore, was a ‘market directive’, an outcome produced and legitimated by the authority enshrined in the marketplace. Given the hostile and climate in DNS management and its rejection of the IAHC-gTLD proposal the US government published on 28 January1998 a ‘Green Paper’ to begin a process by which the DNS would be opened to competition and its management privatized in a not-for-profit corporation (NTIA, 1998a). The reaction to the Green Paper was mixed. Among its harshest critics, foreign governments, who saw the paper as an attempt to assert US legal and political jurisdiction over the entire name space. Indeed, the European Commission even claimed that “The current US proposals could, in the name of globalisation and privatisation of the Internet, consolidate permanent US jurisdiction over the Internet as a whole.” (Mueller, 2002, pp. 165-166) Trademark interests rebuked attempts to add new TLDs that would expand the market space and increase competition, as it would provide additional strains on trademark protection. Based on the responses to the proposals in the Green Paper, on 3 June 1998 the US government issued a White Paper. Rather than a binding agreement, the White Paper was a statement of policy, setting out the principles by which privatization would occur. Its most vehement opponents were appeased. WIPO was given the role of managing trademark disputes, which assuaged fears of other governments that the US was asserting global authority over the root and e-commerce. In fact, in a full affront to sovereign interest and state regulation in the market, the White Paper stipulated that no states would have seats on the management board of the new corporation. No new TLDs were added, diminishing the opposition of trademark holders. And IANA, the agency run by the technical community that managed names and addresses was to be linked to the new corporation, bringing the technical community and the US government closer together. Beyond this, decisions about actual corporation’s structure and board were left up to the growing “Internet community”, now well expanded beyond the IETF, 14 The Clinton Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce. Executive Summary. <http://www.technology.gov/digeconomy/11.htm>

Authors: Shah, Nisha.
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background image
Shah 30
intentions were translated into research objectives, at this time migrated from the National
Science Foundation to the Department of Commerce, as the research/academic focus of the
Internet was replaced with the view of the “Internet as a non-regulatory medium, one in which
competition and consumer choice will shape the marketplace.”
14
The growing marketplace and
its resultant domain name disputes were no longer seen within the purview of the NSF and it no
longer wanted responsibility for managing the Internet in this context. Indeed, as the US
government itself stated, “As the Internet becomes commercial, it becomes inappropriate for US
research agencies (NSF and DARPA) to participate in and fund [Internet management].” (NTIA,
1998a) However, within a neoliberal market the directive was not one of shifting responsibility
between state agencies but how the state would shift authority to the market. The Department of
Commerce’s role was accordingly, as stipulated by the Executive Order, to create effective self-
regulating market mechanisms for managing the Internet. The institutional change, therefore,
was a ‘market directive’, an outcome produced and legitimated by the authority enshrined in the
marketplace.
Given the hostile and climate in DNS management and its rejection of the IAHC-gTLD
proposal the US government published on 28 January1998 a ‘Green Paper’ to begin a process by
which the DNS would be opened to competition and its management privatized in a not-for-
profit corporation (NTIA, 1998a). The reaction to the Green Paper was mixed. Among its
harshest critics, foreign governments, who saw the paper as an attempt to assert US legal and
political jurisdiction over the entire name space. Indeed, the European Commission even claimed
that “The current US proposals could, in the name of globalisation and privatisation of the
Internet, consolidate permanent US jurisdiction over the Internet as a whole.” (Mueller, 2002,
pp. 165-166) Trademark interests rebuked attempts to add new TLDs that would expand the
market space and increase competition, as it would provide additional strains on trademark
protection. Based on the responses to the proposals in the Green Paper, on 3 June 1998 the US
government issued a White Paper. Rather than a binding agreement, the White Paper was a
statement of policy, setting out the principles by which privatization would occur. Its most
vehement opponents were appeased. WIPO was given the role of managing trademark disputes,
which assuaged fears of other governments that the US was asserting global authority over the
root and e-commerce. In fact, in a full affront to sovereign interest and state regulation in the
market, the White Paper stipulated that no states would have seats on the management board of
the new corporation. No new TLDs were added, diminishing the opposition of trademark
holders. And IANA, the agency run by the technical community that managed names and
addresses was to be linked to the new corporation, bringing the technical community and the US
government closer together. Beyond this, decisions about actual corporation’s structure and
board were left up to the growing “Internet community”, now well expanded beyond the IETF,
14
The Clinton Administration’s Framework for Global Electronic Commerce. Executive Summary.
<http://www.technology.gov/digeconomy/11.htm>


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