Ben Wagner: "Zum Abschuss freigegeben: The slow death of Multi-Stakeholderism and the Morning After the End of the current Internet Governance regime"

, 12:15 pm to

Ben Wagner from the Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Italy gave a presentation as part of the Lecture Series "Internet and Society". His slides are available here. Video to come at the end of the summer semester.

Multi-stakeholderism is under attack by communities of practice across the world. In the more developed states, security communities are eyeing a way to gain greater control of a data-bonanza while economic interests vie to see what forms of control can make profit or build the next monopoly. In the less developed states non-unreasonable concerns about U.S. control of large parts of the Internet infrastructure have made governments ever more aggressive in trying to contest multi-stakeholder institutions. This is not a new cold war, rather it is the beginning of the slow death of multi-stakeholderism.

Many constituencies around the world and indeed many Internet users have benefited from this model, as they give more power than they would otherwise have or simply left to do what they wanted. However increases in state desires for control the Net after the arab spring and greater interest from the military-industrial complex make its survival highly unlikely in the long term. Most importantly multi-stakeholderism has never seriously answered the legitimacy question. As such it lacks legitimacy as a global institutional norm and is contested by too many communities of practice to be sustainable.

The presentation will challenge listeners to ignore for a second what they know - or think they know - about the acronym-filled goo that is Internet governance and instead re-imagine the Internet they want. What are the principles the Internet should be governed by? Who is competent to develop such principles? What will the morning after the end of the current Internet Governance regime look like? This talk will add a few answers but many more questions to the issues above and looks forward to a lively debate on re-envisioning the Internet.


Ben Wagner is a Researcher at the European University Institute in Florence and currently completing a PhD on the globalised governance of freedom of expression online. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and Human Rights Watch in Berlin. His research focuses on human rights, digital foreign policy and Internet governance in the Middle East, Europe and North America. In recent years Ben has served as an academic expert for the European Commission, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UNESCO, the Open Society Institute and the European Parliament.