Research Handbook On Governance Of The Internet

Ian Brown (ed.)

Published by

Edward Elgar





Reviewed by

Dr Mick Phythian MBCS CITP


8 out of 10

Intriguingly published in Cheltenham, UK, so adjacent to GCHQ, this collection of eighteen papers by a mix of lawyers and one economist is a fairly heavy read. In the compressed, brief introduction I found John Naughton’s contribution to the history of the internet surprisingly absent.

In further chapters contributors do cover the debate around transition from IPv4 to IPv6, along with ICANN and how governance can be legitimised and made accountable to such a user base, along with consideration of the information economy focused on Google Books.

In matters of data protection and data privacy there is close analysis of the international variations in having and lacking such policies in statute.

Closer to the UK there is the description of the Blair government’s attempt to force through biometric ID cards, which lacked both political truth and evidence base, an approach that is repeated internationally.

The book is highly relevant when we consider the UK coalition’s, or rather the Prime Minister’s, proposal to block child pornography, as Hosein in this text considers such policies would be ineffective. However, there may be a need for some light touch regulation to protect users, especially the young, from being encouraged to make unwise choices online.

With an internet charter still under consideration, human rights, regulation and responsibility are often seen to oscillate between user, service providers and national governments but, as Marsden proposes, if service providers can offer transparency, a light touch regulation may be all that is needed.

Whilst a relatively expensive book, possibly due to its limited audience, the book does shed light on the hidden corners of the internet and possible pitfalls when management, particularly by governments, is being considered.

Whether this fits on a lawyer’s bookshelf or the IT professional’s is another question, but as stated earlier particularly when governments (or providers) attempt to block access it is a useful guide.

Further information: Edward Elgar

August 2013