LASTING IMPACTS OF 1990S ON INTERNET GOVERNANCE
Over the past few years, Facebook has found itself mired in out controversy after the next. During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the company received criticism when it was revealed that Russian groups had created fraudulent social media accounts on their site in order to interfere with the elections – creating anti-Hillary groups, groups stoking fears of minority populations, and materials accusing the Democratic Party of voter fraud in an attempt to discourage voter turn-out. The question is, how did we get to this point; the point where foreign entities are affecting political outcomes in other countries through a website created by a private American corporation on a media platform wherein the lines between the cultures and legal systems of different countries is sometimes difficult to draw? To answer this, I look to the policies written by the U.S. Government in the 1990s on the issue of internet governance. I argue that the focus on including commercial interests in these early governance structures has had a lasting impact on the ways in which the internet operates to this day. In considering recent controversies that stem from the blurring lines of online sovereignty, wherein commercial and governmental interests become interwoven without a clear sense of who bears the responsibility when the system operates against the interests of its users, it becomes essential to consider the historical foundations which may have led to this moment.