from Net Politics and Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program

New Cyber Brief: Maintaining U.S. Leadership on Internet Governance

February 22, 2017

Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

The Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program has launched a new Cyber Brief. This one is authored by Megan Stifel, founder of Silicon Harbor Consultants and former director for international cyber policy at the National Security Council.

After almost two decades of overseeing the internet naming and addressing system, the U.S. government transferred the responsibility to a coalition of industry, civil society, and government stakeholders in October 2016. The United States relinquished its role to demonstrate to emerging countries its commitment to significant private sector involvement in the operation of the internet.

The move had overwhelming support from industry and like-minded governments, but some policymakers, including Donald J. Trump when he was running for office, saw the announcement as an ill-considered loss of direct control over the most important communications medium ever developed. Given that the transition is effectively irreversible, the United States needs to respond to new institutional and political realities and find alternative ways to maintain its influence on internet governance.

Stifel argues the U.S. government can do this by collaborating with industry to enhance the internet’s reliability and resilience by tackling vulnerabilities that permit foreign governments to question the current multistakeholder approach. Additionally, the U.S. government should expand efforts to foster and train leaders in emerging internet markets.

You can find the full brief here.