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

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute; Citizen Lab, University of Toronto; Princeton University - Center for Information Technology Policy; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society; Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

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)

University of Oxford - Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

1 St. Giles
University of Oxford
Oxford OX1 3PG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire OX1 3JS
United Kingdom

Citizen Lab, University of Toronto ( email )

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

Princeton University - Center for Information Technology Policy ( email )

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Princeton, NJ 08540
United States

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

Harvard Law School
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Cambridge, MA Nova Scotia 02138
Canada

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Canada

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