In her book, the Global War for Internet Governance, Professor Laura DeNardis states that the question over who should have authority over “critical Internet resources” (CIRs) is the most tangible disagreement when it comes to a potential central authority governing the internet. Most nation states actually do not have direct jurisdiction over the distribution of CIRs and this distribution also tends to occur outside traditional economic markets.
So who governs the internet? The answer: Multiple institutions which have multiple stakeholders. These institutions include the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), regional Internet registries (RIRs), Domain Name System registries, and domain name registrars. Because of the United States’ relationship with key parts of this governance infrastructure, especially ICANN, it has played a key (and what some have criticized as overly influential) role in internet governance.
The current global internet governance structure brings to mind questions of equitable allocation of resources and undue influence of the nations that are most closely intwined with the key governing institutions.