& the GII
This guide identifies fundamental regulatory
issues at the global and national levels.
It considers the role of government and discusses regulatory
mechanisms, including international agreements and private
arbitration. It offers a map of bodies such as ICANN,
the WTO, WIPO, ISOC, NOIE, ISO, GILC and HIIP.
content of this guide
The following pages cover -
- the nature of law in cyberspace
- global power politics, who makes the big decisions
and who provides the language for debate about governance
of the global information infrastructure (GII)
- models for regulating cyberspace: rulemaking by new
international bodies, 'norms' and self-help, central
- the debate about jurisdictions in cyberspace and some
of the mechanisms
- the shape of crime, enforcement, rights and responsibilities
in a borderless world
the lex mercatoria in a digital global economy
- national, international and paragovernmental regulatory
and policy mechanisms
- business advocacy groups concerned with the governance
- cyber-liberties and other advocacy groups concerned
with internet governance
- questions about the 'new class', organisations and
states in governance of the GII
- questions about clickocracy, assent, indifference
and online self-determination
guides on this site offer more detailed analysis and suggestions
for reading about the 'Digital Age' - the information
economy, marketing, retailing, online communication, intellectual
property, communities, the digital divides and other issues.
Governance of cyberspace involves two issues:
individuals, governments, businesses and other entities
deal with the internet - a major element of the GII
discussed in our Networks & GII guide.
identification and administration of a policy framework
(in particular appropriate legislation) concerned with
activity conducted on the net.
a framework is contiguous with the historical mission
of western governments. Regulation of activity accordingly
encompasses such areas as
protection, including fairness in advertising and food/drug
of innovation and protection of intellectual property
on the sale of goods and services
of financial activity,
in particular currency flows, securities trading and
on access to some content
of a civil society through
a balance between free speech and defamation/vilification,
privacy and (more broadly)
measures to assist access to social goods by all members
of a community
on crimes against individuals,
organisations or society as a whole (including extortion,
vandalism, data theft and terrorism).
In the late 1980s claims that cyberspace was a realm without
law, self-regulating and unsullied by government, still
had some credibility. That's no longer the case.
Irrespective of the exploits of individual criminals,
'normalisation' of the web - its acceptance by business,
government and community as an integral and increasingly
unremarkable part of daily life - means that activity
online is bounded by regulatory frameworks, enforcement
mechanisms and community perceptions.
Much of the activity on the internet takes place across
national or other borders, ie involves different legal
jurisdictions. It also involves electronic media. As noted
in the network and economy
guides, there are usable precedents in national and international
law for establishing rules, resolving disputes and dealing
with offences. Just as importantly, perceptions among
the 'governed' are proving to be far more flexible and
sensible than some of the more doctrinaire theorists.
That may change if one can indeed become a citizen of
cyberspace but for the moment all online activity touches
earth at one point or another. When it does, it's susceptible
to regulation. Content may be at home in cyberspace but
most of the infrastructure remains resolutely earthbound.
Much of that infrastructure's owned by connectivity providers
and other commercial entities that operate within national
jurisdictions or under international agreements.
points of entry
Two points of entry into research about governance
of cyberspace are the UCLA Online Institute for Cyberspace
Law & Policy (ICLP)
and the Cyberspace Law Institute (CLI),
both US-based. The ICLP offers an online bibliography
and analysis of events. The Internet Law & Policy
has a cross-border focus in exploring global regulation,
digital signatures, content blocking and other issues.
At Harvard the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
and the Harvard Information Infrastructure Project (HIIP)
are outstanding. The latter has produced an excellent
series of papers, noted throughout these guides, such
as Coordinating the Internet (Cambridge: MIT Press
1997) and Borders In Cyberspace (Cambridge: MIT
Press 1997). Yale has a competing Information Society
On the US west coast the Berkeley Center for Law &
complements the ICLP.
The Internet Policy Institute (IPI)
is a US industry-funded think tank, with a mission to
advise the President. It has produced a number of valuable
papers. The competing Global Information Infrastructure
is an offshoot of the US Center for Strategic & International
Locally the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)
is Australia's preeminent criminological research body,
with a growing interest in information law. The Communications
Law Centre (CLC)
is an independent research and analysis body hosted by
the University of NSW. The Centre for International Research
on Communication & Information Technologies (CIRCIT)
is also of interest.
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