The Internet at 20: Evolution of a Constitution for Cyberspace
Henry H. Perritt Jr.
Illinois Institute of Technology - Chicago-Kent College of Law
October 19, 2012
20 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 1115 (2012)
Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper No. 2013-22
The Internet’s “constitution” is not expressed in a single document. Instead, it comprises the open architecture inherent in the Internet’s technological protocols together with a collection of government policies, legislative enactments, and judicial decisions that seek to protect the basic architectural philosophy, ensure space for entrepreneurial freedom, and guard against the abuse of economic or political power.
This Article looks back over the Internet’s first twenty years, highlighting the crucial legal decisions by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches that have led to the Internet’s success, and which now frame its constitution. I participated in many of these decisions and wrote more than a dozen law review articles and reports suggesting directions for public policy and law. This Article uses this foundation to consider the future, focusing on major legal controversies, the resolution of which will define the Internet’s third decade — either strengthening or undermining its constitution.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 69
Keywords: Internet, constitution, technology, cyberspace, online, network
JEL Classification: K30, K39Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 20, 2012 ; Last revised: June 10, 2013
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