Code is Law, But Law is Increasingly Determining the Ethics of Code: A Comment

in Urs Gasser, Jonathan Zittrain, Robert Faris & Rebekah H. Jones (eds.), Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World: Platforms, Policy, Privacy, and Public Discourse, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University 90 (2014)

Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-17

3 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2016

See all articles by Jon Penney

Jon Penney

Harvard Law School; Harvard Kennedy School - Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Citizen Lab, University of Toronto

Date Written: November 1, 2014

Abstract

“Code is Law”, the aphorism Larry Lessig popularized, spoke to the importance of computer code as a central regulating force in the Internet age. That remains true, but today, overreaching laws are also increasingly subjugating important social and ethics questions raised by code to the domain of law. Those laws — like the CFAA and DMCA — need to be curtailed or their zealous enforcement reigned; they deter not only legitimate research but also important related social and ethics questions. But researchers must act too: to re-assert control over the social, legal, and ethical direction of their fields. Otherwise, law will increasingly determine the direction of data science and the ethics of code.

Keywords: code is law, ethics, research ethics, DMCA, CFAA, disclosure

JEL Classification: K40, P37

Suggested Citation

Penney, Jonathon, Code is Law, But Law is Increasingly Determining the Ethics of Code: A Comment (November 1, 2014). in Urs Gasser, Jonathan Zittrain, Robert Faris & Rebekah H. Jones (eds.), Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World: Platforms, Policy, Privacy, and Public Discourse, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University 90 (2014); Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2869613 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2869613

Jonathon Penney (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard Kennedy School - Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA Nova Scotia 02138
Canada

Citizen Lab, University of Toronto ( email )

Munk School of Global Affairs
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3K7
Canada

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