Case #1610.0

ICANN: Experiment in Global Self-Governance

Publication Date: March 01, 2001
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The worldwide growth of the Internet in the mid- to late 1990s led to explosions in commerce and communication--but also to vexing regulatory challenges. By its very nature, the World Wide Web transcended national boundaries and thus the regulatory systems of sovereign nations. Given that reality, how could disputes about essential elements of its governance be adjudicated? This case is a definitive account, based on interviews with key participants in the process, of the development and philosophy of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the US-based nonprofit that became the vehicle for world wide Internet governance. The case describes the origins and expansion of ICANN (starting with its predecessor organizations in the Web's earliest days) and its approach to the commercially and politically sensitive issue of "domain names" (the key internet address locators). Notably, the case tells the story of the design and implementation of the first-ever international election for ICANN's board of directors.

Learning Objective:
This case can be used to discuss principles of regulatory policy in a new and tricky context.

Other Details

Case Author:
Kitty Guckenberger
Faculty Lead:
John D. Donahue
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Bertelsmann Foundation