A new institutional economics analysis of the history of the regulation of the .cn (China) country-code top-level domain from 1990 to 2004
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 19:58 authored by Chunyan Ding
The Domain Name System (DNS) operates at the literal root of the Internet. Governments can control cyberspace communications through controlling the DNS and countries can claim cyberspace sovereignty via their administration of country-code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs). In order to understand how China governs the Internet and its cyberspace, it is necessary to know how Chinese governments regulate the DNS. Under the theoretical framework of New Institutional Economics theory, combining qualitative analysis, historical research, case studies, and triangulation research, this dissertation analyses the institutional formation and institutional change process for the .cn ccTLD administrative regulations. It also explores how Chinese governments’ governance practices are affected and how the constraints of politics, law, economics and technology improve and restrain the institutional formation and change of the .cn ccTLD administrative regulations. The structure of the thesis includes institutional transplantation, institutional localization and institutional specialization. This dissertation proposes and tests three key arguments: (1) within the context of the DNS and characterized with connectivity and hierarchy, and domain name administrative regulations with a hierarchic administrative mode, domain name technological path dependency led to China’s domain name administrative regulation’s path dependency; (2) the institutional change of the Administrative Measures on China’s Domain Names resulted from the synthesis of endogenous and exogenous institutional change factors; (3) Chinese governments sometimes supply or tolerate inefficient institutional arrangements so as to achieve other higher goals. Overall, this dissertation provides evidence that the Chinese governments tolerate, develop, and/or promote institutions and technologies which might increase the quality of citizens’ lives and which might develop the domestic economy, but constrain, supervise, or/and forbid institutions and technologies perceived to risk causing damage to China’s stability and unity.