The network originated in 2004 during a meeting in Montevideo sponsored by the International Development Research Centre - IDRC, which brought together a group of researchers to prepare brief studies about the regulatory challenges for the expansion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Latin America. The original group consisted of nine researchers from different countries in the region. A year later DIRSI was formally established during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro (where four new members joined the original group), and in September of that year the development of a first-round research proposal was completed.
DIRSI was initially conceived as a purely virtual network, with no specific headquarters and with coordination, production and management decentralized among members in various countries in the region. Later, in order to simplify network management, it was decided that the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP) would become the administrative headquarters of DIRSI.