This paper asks whether the Internet’s heavy reliance on non-hierarchical, networked forms of governance is compatible with growing concerns about cyber-security from traditional state actors. Networked governance is defined as a semipermanent, voluntary negotiation system that allows interdependent actors to opt for collaboration or unilateral action in the absence of an overarching authority. Two case studies—Internet routing security and the response to a large-scale botnet known as Conficker—show the prevalence of networked governance on the Internet and provide insight into its strengths and limitations. The paper concludes that both cases raise doubts about the claim that introducing security concerns into Internet governance necessarily leads to more hierarchy and/or a greater role for governments.
© International Studies Review, 2013