Internet RFCs as social policy: Network design from a regulatory perspective Conference Paper uri icon


  • AbstractThe Internet has come to fill centrally important economic, social, political, and cultural functions during a period in which policymaking, too, has been undergoing significant change. The Internet Requests for Comments (RFC) process is both the venue technical decisionmaking and for the development of Internet governance procedures and institutions. Because this process casts decisions in technical terms, it has largely been without policy scrutiny. This paper offers a preliminary analysis of the RFC discourse for ways in its decisionmaking contributes to, operationalizes, influences, or conflicts with the laws of geopolitically recognized governments, and for ways in which the discourse itself serves as the means through which the more formal institutions and practices of Internet governance developed. The paper opens with a discussion of the gap between the technical and legal Internet discourse communities. Policy functions filled by Internet RFCs include explicit policymaking, explicit policy analysis, and implicit policy analysis (insights into policy issues that are not expressly discussed but that can be elicited from the texts through policy analysis). As a discourse matrix, the RFCs have several features that enable the conversation to fill additional policyrelated functions that include defining the policy subject (the Internet), establishment of Internet design processes, policy implementation programs, conflict and conflict resolution, informal problem resolution, and political analysis.

published proceedings

  • Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Braman, S.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Braman, Sandra

publication date

  • January 2009