Author: Daithi Mac Sithigh

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Future of the Internet Symposium: File under…

James Grimmelmann’s discussion of the essential theory of generativity and its value as the ‘right theory’ (as opposed to its application, which he suggests needs more discussion for FOI 2.0) is a nice link to something I’m still quite curious about.  Since The Future Of The Internet came out, a diverse bunch have been responding to it, and I think those responses are worth considering in this symposium, as a way of adding some further spice to our analysis of a fine book and particularly its role in debates about theory and ideology.

This can start at quite a simple level.  I smiled when, in the wonderful bookshop in the Tate Modern gallery in London, I spotted a single paperback copy of The Future Of The Internet in the ‘Critical Theory’ section, completely surrounded by the many works of Slavoj Žižek.  Of course, methods of classification in libraries and bookstores can be revealing (even when everything is miscellaneous), and that’s certainly the case here.  What sort of impact is Zittrain’s work having outside of cyberlaw – and what does that say about the development of cyberlaw itself?  Many will know of the preface to Paul Berman’s reader on Law & Society Approaches To Cyberspace (via SSRN), where he takes a three-generations approach, suggesting that Zittrain (through the 2006 Harvard Law Review generativity article), along with Benkler and others, are a third generation combining aspects of the first (mid-90s debates about exceptionalism and cyberlibertarianism) and the second (sceptical, sober, Lessig, Reidenberg).  I wonder if we can now articulate a better version of the third generation in its own right, though – and whether Zittrain himself sees it that way.

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CCR Symposium: We Are The World

I’d be very interested to read international responses to this paper and the consequences of the actions suggested in it. It’s always intrigued me how debates on speech-related issues differ from place to place, and how what’s taken for granted in the US, for example, is not so in Europe. As so much of the published work on Internet law comes from the United States, it’s only natural that First Amendment considerations be a strong influence on such writing. Harassment, too, can be quite localised, including in some of the situations referred to in Cyber Civil Rights. However, there’s still the obvious crossborder nature of the Internet, meaning that if a problem is identified, the solution – or the constitutional constraints on the solution – require some sort of consideration of non-US law and indeed non-US impact. Here’s a first attempt at opening up that conversation.

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CCR Symposium: Progressive 2.0

I too congratulate Danielle Citron for her article on Cyber Civil Rights, which has already achieved what must have been one important aim – that of encouraging the community of ‘Internet law’ scholars to reconsider the purpose and value of some fairly established ideas. So far in this symposium, commentators have highlighted the way in which framing the question of online expression as simultaneously one of civil rights can change the desired legislative or regulatory approach. Michael Froomkin adds a further twist, highlighting how it is important to consider the impact of remedial measures on the concept of and right to anonymity. Running the risk of adding another frame, I suggest that we are moving towards a reassessment of the role of the intermediary on the present-day Internet, and I’m hopeful that Prof. Citron’s article might lead towards a new kind of debate, one that goes beyond business-friendly libertarians doing battle with social conservatives while the rest of us look on.

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