Lawrence Lessig on the increasing regulation of cyberspace
Every age has its potential regulator, its threat to liberty. Our founders feared a newly empowered federal government; the Constitution is written against that fear. John Stuart Mill worried about the regulation by social norms in nineteenth-century England; his book On Liberty is written against that regulation. Many of the progressives in the twentieth century worried about the injustices of the market. The reforms of the market, and the safety nets that surround it, were erected in response. Ours is the age of cyberspace. This regulator is code—the software and hardware that make cyberspace as it is. This regulation is changing. My aim in this short essay is to give a sense of this regulation, and a sense of how it is changing. The basic code of the Internet implements a set of protocols called TCP/IP. These features of TCP/IP have consequences for the "regulability" of behavior on the Internet. In some contexts, for some, this unregulability is a virtue. So what can be done?