Internet governance is broadly defined as the processes that affect how the Internet is managed. The Internet is the collection of networks of devices around the world that are voluntarily interconnected using some degree of shared standards and policies. No single body dictates or enforces how the Internet expands, which underlying technologies are used, or what rules govern the use of the global network, though international committees set critical standards, such as defining addresses at which individual devices can reach one another. Since the Internet began expanding rapidly, the irresistible and continually growing value it can provide to stakeholders, including countries, has forced most national governments to either accept the status quo of Internet governance or attempt to form their own policies at the domestic level, risking international pushback. Of course, maintaining a network of devices separate from the Internet is a common practice, particularly regarding security concerns in lower-level network operations. However, national-level policies of non-participation, as largely practiced by North Korea, deprive a country’s industries of the economic opportunities the Internet offers. The Internet architecture and the manner in which it is governed are still rooted in its country of origin, the United States. Western technologies and industries, particularly from the United States, dominate the Internet’s current construct. Moreover, the U.S. government designed the governing model and retains influence over small yet critical functions, such as managing network addresses, which define the accepted standards of the Internet community. However, this responsibility is in the process of moving from Washington to a private entity. From the perspective of Internet users, the abstract world of online activity is not necessarily tied to geographic and political boundaries, but it does rest on physical infrastructure inseparable from geography. As a result, every country adapts domestic and foreign policies incorporating the Internet — policies that can affect the activities of Internet stakeholders and users. Geopolitics is naturally interwoven into the evolution of these policies. It is no surprise, then, that China and Russia are promoting network security and Internet governance issues that reflect their geopolitical situations and that mirror international relations in other areas. For example, just as the two countries’ membership in the Shanghai Cooperation ©Stratfor 221 W. 6th Street, Suite 400 Austin, TX 78701 Tel: 1 (800) 286 9062 Fax: (1) 512 744 4334 3 Organization (SCO) and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping serve to counter U.S. economic, political and military power, their similar visions of network security and Internet governance serve to challenge what they perceive as a U.S.-centric Internet — one that also conflicts with their national security interests.