Protocol Politics: The Globalization of Internet Governance

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MIT Press, Jul 31, 2009 - Technology & Engineering - 288 pages
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The Internet has reached a critical point. The world is running out of Internet addresses. There is a finite supply of approximately 4.3 billion Internet Protocol (IP) addresses--the unique binary numbers required for every exchange of information over the Internet--within the Internet's prevailing technical architecture (IPv4). In the 1990s the Internet standards community selected a new protocol (IPv6) that would expand the number of Internet addresses exponentially--to 340 undecillion addresses. Despite a decade of predictions about imminent global conversion, IPv6 adoption has barely begun. Protocol Politics examines what's at stake politically, economically, and technically in the selection and adoption of a new Internet protocol. Laura DeNardis's key insight is that protocols are political. IPv6 intersects with provocative topics including Internet civil liberties, US military objectives, globalization, institutional power struggles, and the promise of global democratic freedoms. DeNardis offers recommendations for Internet standards governance, based not only on technical concerns but on principles of openness and transparency, and examines the global implications of looming Internet address scarcity versus the slow deployment of the new protocol designed to solve this problem.
 

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Contents

1 Scarcity and Internet Governance
1
2 Protocol Selection as Power Selection
25
3 Architecting Civil Liberties
71
4 The Politics of Protocol Adoption
97
5 The Internet Address Space
139
6 Opening Internet Governance
187
List of Abbreviations
231
Technical Appendix
237
Selected Bibliography
243
Index
253
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