Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace

By Lawrence Lessig | Go to book overview

FIVE
regulating code

I'VE ARGUED THAT AS THE NET CHANGES TO ENABLE COMMERCE, ONE BY-PRODUCT OF this change will be to enable regulation. But let's say you don't buy it. Let's say that you don't believe that the invisible hand acting alone will erect the infrastructure of trust (and in turn regulation) that I said commerce needed. Let's say you think the coordination needed is too great and that market incentives will create more confusion than guidance. If you are right, if commerce on its own does not flip the Net, will the Net remain unregulable?

The answer is no. Commerce does not act alone, and it is not morally opposed to partnerships with government. If commerce needs help constructing this architecture of trust, or (more likely) if the government begins to understand the value of an architecture of trust for its own regulatory objective, then government will help push the code along.

But how? So far I have left standing the assumption that it is impossible for the government to regulate the Net, that there is something in the nature of the Net that makes such regulation unworkable. So how is it possible for government to help? If the Net is unregulable, how could government regulate it to make the Net more regulable ?


REGULATING ARCHITECTURE

To see how, we must distinguish between two claims. One is that, given the architecture of the Net as it is, it is difficult for government to regulate behavior on the Net. The other is that, given the architecture of the Net, it is difficult for the government to regulate the architecture of the Net. The first claim, I believe, is true. The second is not. Even if it is hard to regulate behavior given the Net as it is, it is not hard for the government to take steps to alter, or supplement, the architecture

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Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • Part One - Regulability *
  • One Code Is Law *
  • Two - Four Puzzles from Cyberspace *
  • Three - Is - I S M *
  • Four - Architectures of Control *
  • Five - Regulating Code *
  • Part Two - Code and Other Regulators *
  • Six - Cyberspaces *
  • Seven - What Things Regulate *
  • Eight - The Limits in Open Code *
  • Part Three - Applications *
  • Nine - Translation *
  • Ten - Intellectual Property *
  • Eleven - Privacy *
  • Twelve - Free Speech *
  • Thirteen - Interlude *
  • Fourteen - Sovereignty *
  • Part Four - Responses *
  • Fifteen - The Problems We Face *
  • Sixteen - Responses *
  • Seventeen - What Declan Doesn't Get *
  • Appendix *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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