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Legitimacy and Authority in Internet Coordination: A Domain Name Case Study
Indiana Law Journal (1999)
  • Joseph P. Liu, Boston College Law School
The process of crafting and promulgating technical standards for the internet is often hailed as a prime example of how coordinated activity can take place on a distributed network with little central authority or formal “law.”  Often overlooked, however, is the fact that the internet’s technical standard-setting process rests on a number of highly contingent assumptions, assumptions that do not apply in other areas of internet governance.  This paper explores the limits of this dominant standard-setting approach to internet coordination, using the current controversy over internet domain names as a case study.  Such a case study reveals that existing attempts to apply the standard-setting approach to the domain name problem face crippling problems of authority and legitimacy.  This is because existing problems with the domain name system are not purely or even primarily technical questions, but are rather classic public policy questions involving competing distributional claims and value choices.  This analysis of the limits of the existing standard-setting approach to internet coordination sheds light on the proper, though limited, role that government can play in mediating such claims in the context of the internet.
Publication Date
Spring 1999
Citation Information
Joseph P. Liu. "Legitimacy and Authority in Internet Coordination: A Domain Name Case Study" Indiana Law Journal Vol. 74 (1999)
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