Information and communication technologies (ICT) are not an innovation in the modern society, having become the traditional source of information and means of communication. Social changes, as a result, influenced by them today are not seen as a revolutionary, but evolutionary process. New ways of originally interpersonal and then group and mass interaction on the basis of ICT, in turn, lead to a change of communicative practice and culture of traditional social communities. There is no doubt that various social groups that are in an urgent need of expansion of interaction for learning and creativity as well as communication demand the establishment and operation of virtual communities to erase geographical and intercultural boundaries. It has definitely affected and contributed to the emergence of a new form of electronic interaction called computer-mediated communication or Social Informatics. Thus, there is the formation of interrelated information (post-industrial, post-modern, network) in the society, in which technology affects communication between people and new technology interoperability forms a new type of a community. Without a doubt, today the Internet is a central element of the infrastructure of the emerging information society. Therefore, social informatics, as a science, is closely relevant to this topic since it studies information flows among the societies, as well as their impact on social processes, including the development and position of the individual in society, and the social structures changes under the influence of Internet as well. Largely for this reason, one of the key aspects in the discussion of the global network is a question of who controls and manages it. Currently, this issue does not have a unique solution since approaches used to resolve it are very diverse. There are different positions with respect to institutions and mechanisms for managing processes and policy development of the global network. A number of reputable research institutions has been created, subject areas of which are issues of the Internet governance. Further, the paper reveals net neutrality and Internet, as an information space structure, that needs to be neutral.
Key point of net neutrality lies in equal access to any data using Internet technologies. Social informatics is guided by the production, processing, storage and distribution of all kinds of information in society in natural and artificial systems. The rapid development and use of information and communication technologies not only opens up new opportunities, but also poses new challenges to the world community. Creating so-called information highways has obvious impact on the economic, social, cultural and educational fields. Therefore, social informatics requires greater participation and action by international, national and regional organizations and institutions to model and study possible outcomes of any information flows.
An attempt to cease the system and control architecture of the global network in legal framework has a research value for several reasons. First, a cross-border global nature of the Internet and key features of its functioning such as self-regulation, network-centric organization, and lack of management hierarchy objectively face researchers and managers with a whole set of problems, challenges, and issues. The solution is carried out both at national and international levels. The specificity of the organization of the global network has management issues that can be solved only by joint efforts of state regulators, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and non-governmental organizations such as national or regional network providers, as well as the private sector and civil society.
Second, issues of the Internet governance are seen as an independent substantive scope that is analyzed from the standpoint of the theory of global governance, the theory of government regimes, as well as political, social, and other contexts. At the same time, in each of the theoretical models the term ‘Internet governance’ is understood in different ways. The starting point in this paper is the definition proposed in the Report of the Working Group on Internet Governance.
Third, the Internet has never been the subject of a systematic analysis of experts in the field of public law, but by virtue of its cross-border nature it has become as such recently. Questions of international legal regulation of relations in the cyberspace and the applicability of the public law to the Internet have gained practical relevance only in the last decade of the history of the Internet, which is more than 40 years. However, at present the analysis of Internet governance issues is closely linked to legal aspects. As a basic approach, there is used a traditional understanding of the law as a system of treaty and customary norms and principles, expressing agreed will of residents and regulating the relations between them, government organizations, and other legal entities.
Functioning of the Internet suggests that global information flows and data packets are able to find a path from a sender to a receiver. In addition, the so-called physical network structure of the Internet includes a huge number of mostly commercial network operators and their networks, ranging from small to intercontinental. Network operators may, depending on market needs, integrate and link their infrastructure. Together, these networks, which form the physical structure of the Internet, are linked in a topology that is substantially similar to the topology of a developed network of transport communications. Therefore, such formations may affect net neutrality with account for their own benefits. An integral part and one of the foundations of the Internet is the principle of self-regulation. Brian Carpenter's thesis that the Internet in a sense is a neutral space that exists without centralized control and that nobody owns and can turn off has not lost its relevance. However, in fact it is not entirely correct. A central office of management and coordination of internet functioning does exist as there is an objective need to perform at least three specific functions.
First, there is a point about the development of the principles of blocks of Internet address space (IP-address) allocation. Second, there is an operation of the root of DNS-servers to enable Internet-connected devices to find each other and data packets to travel from source to destination across the Internet. Finally, it comes to the development and implementation of the principles of creation and administration of national top-level domains and index names of Internet domains assigning, for example, .com, .net, .us, .org., and so on.
From the above, it is clear that institutional mechanisms of the Internet connection with the organization ensure its technological functioning. It is difficult, if not impossible, to give an exhaustive list of international and national organizations, groups, forums, and other entities whose activities are somehow related to the Internet governance. It is also difficult to determine their status, competence, order, and system of relations. Net neutrality is important under these circumstances.
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The main reason for net neutrality in such a complex and differentiated global architecture of the Internet governance lies in the dichotomy of the global network. On the one hand, it is a technical invention and, as such, it needs an objective technical support and technological support for functioning. Simplifying the understanding of the Internet to a technical invention or technological resources reveals the question about how to manage it and inevitably moves discussion to the scope of structures responsible for its support and ensuring of its activities at the technical level. Since the functioning of the global network is impossible without technical support, an organization performing these functions is directly related to the Internet governance system and forms an internal institutional mechanism for the network management.
However, describing the global network only as a technical invention is not right since it is a phenomenon that affects global economic and social development. The Internet integrates physical, financial, intellectual, humanitarian, political, social, and other resources that affect national and international processes of socio-economic planning and provide communication links on a planetary scale. A worldwide network of essential technologies is has an international and global nature, including the fact that technical and technological support of its work is designed for international coverage. International nature of the Internet dictates the logic of its management. Internet governance issues cannot be addressed and resolved without the global context. In this sense, the Internet requires existence of an external internationalized management mechanism.
This approach has been reflected in documents of international organizations and forums. For example, there is the resolution of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ECOSOC Resolution 2011/16 as of 26 July, 2011, divides issues concerning the Internet into two large groups or scopes. On the one hand, there is the sphere of the Internet, referring to daily activities and technical and operational matters. On the other hand, the document examines the scope of government activities and their role in the implementation of their commitments to international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet. This area is not connected with technical and operational nature and should be considered separately from it.
Both internal and external institutional arrangements for the Internet governance are interrelated and it is not possible to clearly identify criteria for their differentiation. The internal institutional mechanism of the Internet governance has so far been generally formed along with the internal organizational and technical model of the Internet. This, however, does not mean that the internal mechanism will not be further developed and improved. External international Internet governance mechanisms are at the stage of formation and establishment. On the one hand, their development affects the whole complex of the existing domestic institutional mechanism of Internet governance. On the other hand, because of the specific cross-border operation of the network the external institutional control mechanism involves states, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, private sector, and civil society structures.
Such multilevel structure of participants in the system of the Internet governance provides a basis for a number of authors to link these problems with the formation of a new model of multilevel global governance, formation of a new architecture of global governance, and even undermining and erosion of the Westphalian model of the world. Currently, central elements of external control mechanism for the Internet are still a subject of the international law, namely states and international intergovernmental organizations.
For many people, the Internet has appeared as the answer to the need for removal of restrictions from the possibility to act, arising due to the desire to expand the freedom of human nature under the particular circumstances of the world. Moreover, the proportion of successful leading countries of the world community, as well as their influence in the society emerging thanks to network communication is already quite sufficient to make future social and political changes irreversible. Availability of direct peer relationships of all against all is the defining quality of the network society, which gives all persons participating in it great benefits that they can hardly refuse.
Eliminating digital division at all levels is a paramount task of net neutrality. Its importance is extremely high due to a sharp increase in the socio-political and economic role of information in the contemporary world. Information needs of people grow rapidly, while information is converted into a mass product and becomes an economic category. There has appeared an information market, expanding investment in this area. However, one should understand that different participators may gain an advantage over others in conditions when there is the context of uneven access to information. Such benefit, in turn, influences distribution of economic, political, and social resources. Information inequality leads to the deepening of economic and socio-political contradictions and, thus, to increased instability.
Development and distribution of networking taking place on a global scale is too uneven and controversial, to serve as a means of social integration and harmonization on a global scale. Nonetheless, analysis of the web as a social phenomenon has just begun, specific tools of the social science for theoretical reflection have not been developed, and the cyber community is still analyzed using conventional means. Why this approach is adequate, what quality measurements of online communities and network neutrality should appear, and what role they play in the modern life of the humanity – all these questions have not received adequate attention yet.