International Communications Standards: A Comparative Study of the ITU and ISOC as Regimes

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Virginia Tech


The proliferation of the Internet has created a need for leadership, which has been filled by the Internet Society (ISOC). This study examines ISOC through the lens of regime theory to explain its role. Regime theory is discussed at length in order to create an applicable model of a regime. This model is grounded in the transnationalists school of thought, originating in the 1970s. The regime model is informed by the work of Keohane and Nye, and Chayes and Chayes. The model is applied to three regimes throughout the study, the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and ISOC. In order to study ISOC, the ITU is examined to form a basis of comparison for telecommunications regimes. The ITU was the first modern international organization and has much in common with ISOC. The ITU is examined using the regime model to facilitate comparison between the ITU and ISOC regimes. As a result of this study, the findings show that ISOC is not a typical state-centric regime. However, it does create the potential for a new open and democratic regime style. ISOC sets standards for the Internet and has taken the responsibility for maintaining it. The potential of ISOC to grow with the Internet and develop a new form of international leadership is demonstrated through this analysis.



ISOC, internet, telecommunications, regimes, standards, International Telecommunications Union, ITU, Internet Society