Sandra Braman|Internet RFCs as Social Policy: Network Design from a Regulatory Perspective


This research, supported by the Science, Technology & Society program at National Science Foundation, investigates a key mechanism for the technical community in designing the Internet. It is widely agreed that the design of the Internet both restricts and offers opportunities to the U.S. government as it makes and implements laws and regulations. This project will analyze how designers involved in technical decision-making for the Internet treat legal and policy issues. A comprehensive content and policy analysis will be made of the documentary record of the discourse method through which this decision-making has been taking place since 1969. Known as the Internet Requests for Comments (RFCs) process, this conversation has by now produced over 5000 texts. Research results will contribute to our understanding of the intersection of Internet and legal issues by:

This research will provide information for scholars and policy-makers seeking to understand how technical decision-making, global management (e.g., by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), and the laws of the U.S. and other governments interact.

Publications as a Result of this Research:

Internationalization of the Internenet by design: The first decade. Global Media and Communication 8(1), 26-44, 2012.

Privacy by design: Networked computing, 1969-1979. New Media & Society 14(5), 798-814, 2011.

The framing years: Policy fundamentals in the Internet design process, 1969-1979. The Information Society 27(5), 295-310, 2011.

The Interpenetration of technical and legal decision-making for the InternetInformation, Communication, & Society 13(3), 309-324, 2010.

NSF Logo This research was supported by NSF grant 0823265