Revisiting Net Neutrality From a Polycentric Perspective: Brazilian and German Scenarios

Nathalia Sautchuk Patrício

Global Cooperation Research Papers 31, Duisburg 2022

Keywords: Internet governance, polycentric governance, net neutrality

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-31


In the various arenas of the Internet Governance debate, one of the points frequently highlighted is the need the need to maintain an ‘open Internet’. Despite the common use of the term, which can be understood as a synonym for net neutrality, its meaning varies amongst the diverse cast of stakeholders. Internet governance can be seen as a polycentric mode of governance since the discussion takes place in different arenas and at varying levels. Moreover, these operate not exclusively in separate, individual ways but are connected through regulatory networks. Generally, polycentric governance contains three distinct structural layers to order dynamics: norms, practices and underlying orders. Also, this mode of governance manifests seven main attributes: trans-scalarity, trans-sectorality, diffusion, fluidity, over-lapping mandates, ambiguous hierarchies and the absence of a final arbiter. This text will revisit the net neutrality debate through a polycentric perspective, not used before to analyse this topic, as an approach to highlight some aspects of this discussion that were neglected in previous research.

The Author

Nathalia Sautchuk Patrício holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of São Paulo. She is currently a Research Assistant in the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. She was a German Chancellor Fellow from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, researching network neutrality and liability of Internet intermediaries at the Center for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21) at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany (cohort 2020–2021). Nathalia has spent many years as a technical advisor to the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee and as a lecturer of graduate courses in the IT area. She is a member of the audit committee of the Internet Society’s Brazilian chapter. She is also a representative of the Latin American region in the Number Resource Organization (NRO) Review Committee.

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