Project Project
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Regulation of the Internet

German Research Foundation (DFG) and WZB

Subject Matter

This project examines the effects of the internet on nation-states in terms of their ability to intervene, especially as regards the legitimacy of such intervention. Because the internet is an almost entirely denationalized medium, characterized by almost unrestricted de-territorial access, national control or national regulation of this medium is, of its own accord, inadequate. A level of denationalization which is this high fundamentally contradicts the dominant regulatory model for democratic constitutional interventionist states (DCISs). Specifically in relation to the internet, states will need to transfer regulatory authority to the supranational level and, at the same time, redefine their mode of intervention. The technically innovative character of the internet together with open, de-territorial access stimulate novel forms of participation in “internet policy” and policymaking, which are not in synchronization with conventional DCIS models.
The empirical core of the project is the analysis of political processes in three regulatory areas, all specifically related to the internet: the administration of domain names, the confidentiality of personal data, and the taxation of electronic commerce (e-commerce). On the descriptive level, the first question addressed is whether, for each of these areas, effective regulatory arrangements beyond the nation-state exist and, if so, how they do they work? Of special interest are the particular mix of internationalization and privatization, and the participatory elements used. Second, on the normative level, the emergence and form of internet regulations are dealt with; these are measured against a catalogue of criteria imperative for democratic legitimacy. Finally, with a view to the future and as a result of our inquiry, the question is addressed as to whether and how the internet can be used as a model for strengthening democratic legitimacy in other areas of denationalized regulation.


The Collaborative Research Center 597: Project B4: Regulation and Legitimation in the Internet


Michael Zürn, Peter Mayer, Ralf Bendrath, Jeanette Hofmann, Volker Leib und Gregor Walter (2009). Die Regulation des Internet, Frankfurt am 05n/New York, Campus Verlag, i.V.

Ralf Bendrath, Jeanette Hofmann, Volker Leib, Peter Mayer und Michael Zürn (2007). Governing the Internet: The Quest of Legitimate and Effective Rules. In: Achim Hurrelmann, Stephan Leibfried, Kerstin Martens und Peter Mayer (Hg.), Transforming the Golden-Age Nation State (Transformations of the State Series). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, S. 130-151.