Regulating Cyberspace: The Policies and Technologies of Control

Regulating Cyberspace: The Policies and Technologies of Control

Regulating Cyberspace: The Policies and Technologies of Control

Regulating Cyberspace: The Policies and Technologies of Control

Synopsis

This visionary book presents an interdisciplinary and cogent approach to the issue of Internet governance and control. By examining five critical areas in which the tension between freedom and control is most palpable--fair competition and open access, free expression, intellectual property, privacy rights, and security--Spinello guides the reader on a tour of the emerging body of law and public policy that has attempted to control the anarchy of cyberspace. In so doing, he defends the credo of Internet self-regulation, asserting that the same powerful and flexible architectures that created the Internet as we know it today can be relied upon to aid the private sector in arriving at a workable, decentralized regulatory regime. Except in certain circumstances that require government involvement, self-regulation is not only viable but is a highly preferred alternative to the forced uniformity that centralized structures tend to impose.

Excerpt

In 1983 Ithiel de sola Pool wrote a highly influential book called Technologies of Freedom that dealt with the issue of preserving free speech in an electronic age. The Internet is the latest advance in the “electronic revolution,” an admirable successor to the telegraph and the telephone. It too is a “technology of freedom.” Some see it as the ultimate tool of autonomy. But because of the Internet’s transformative power and its global reach, it presents unusual challenges. Countries, institutions, and individuals feel the need to control the Net and to curb its excesses.

This book deals with the architectures of control, those technologies like filters and rights-management protocols that attempt to tame the Net or protect property and privacy in cyberspace. These architectures can substitute for public policies, but some worry that this privatization of law can have detrimental consequences. Filtering, for example, can have a polarizing effect if it limits one’s exposure to different points of view. Thus, we must reflect upon how these architectures can be used responsibly in order to prevent such collateral damage.

Policies still matter, of course, and this is primarily a book about those policies and laws that are designed to control the disorder of cyberspace. In the pages ahead we will conduct a tour of those emerging policies. As a “guide” for this tour we will also present and defend a credo or philosophy of Internet regulation. We will espouse an admittedly controversial viewpoint that the optimal form of regulation is self-regulation. A basic premise of the book is

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