Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig







In Lessig’s Code v2 he talks about how the idea of regulating the worldwide web. It seems like his concept is since cyberspace is entirely human made, there are no natural laws to determine its architecture. What we can and cannot do there is governed by the code that makes up the Internet, which sometimes can both permit and restrict users. The scariest thing about who governs the code is that we do not elect these people as you would elect your mayor or congressmen. The people who determined the coded that will be written tomorrow that controls what we can do the future is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) or the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

Lessig’s gives us two major ways the government is already trying to regulate the Internet. The first one is indirection, which is an indirect way of controlling our behavior by putting asocial and technical aspects of the world around us that will affect our behavior. Lessig gives us an example of indirection regulation in cyberspace, encryption. The U.S. government has regulated encryption of communications in cyberspace by outlawing the export but not the use of encryption technology. Because the Internet is a global communications system, and there is currently no way to apply a technology to only one geographical region, this has essentially blocked use of high levels of encryption on the Web. But like any thing in life people have found away around this. Another critical legal concept that Lessig introduces to us is translation. Translation is what allows courts to apply older legal concepts to new situations and it is what allows the law to attempt to keep up with new technologies.

There are many people that say the government should stay away form regulating the Internet. The argument against applying real world law to the Internet often comes down to a declaration that the Internet is different. Many people have declared copyright laws dead because, among other things, networked computers really do nothing but copy. Unfortunately many people believe this argument so the industries that rely on copy protection, such as publishers, filmmakers, and music companies, feel like their needs to be laws and new protections for this. Since the Internet is still growing and so is technology the government has to play catch up with its laws. New laws are being formed based on cases that are being brought up everyday about the internet, just look at cyber bullying, these regulations were not in place 10 or 15 years ago because no one knew that this would be an issue.

I said the scariest thing about the Internet is that the people who are regulating it we did not elect but I was wrong. The scariest thing is that we the users are going to self regulate ourselves. The companies, communities, and users write the codes are now the people who are going to enforce it. Some people might see this as a good thing. You can already see this being implemented today. Users can report or block a negative comment or photo. Now most websites give you the option of reporting a user and having them banned for the website. In discussion boards you can now vote up or down on a topic based on its relevance to the subject. I think Professor Lackaff said it best in class, even though this maybe an alternate world the people in this world are still being controlled by a real person. Should the government have to regulate the Internet? A better question is should they have to regulate us in the real world. We all know what is right from wrong and have some type of moral compass. But the government is still need because individuals, especially in America, are selfish and always trying to get ahead. That’s why regulations are needed on the Internet, as long as there is people on this earth, you going to need someone to put rules and regulations on what they can do.