Be Careful What You Ask For: Reconciling a Global Internet and Local Law

16 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2003  

Jonathan L. Zittrain

Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government; Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Abstract

As the Internet becomes part of daily living rather than a place to visit, its rough edges are smoothed and its extremes tamed by sovereigns wanting to protect consumers, prevent network resource abuse, and eliminate speech deemed harmful. The tools are now within reach to permit sovereigns with competing rulesets to play down their differences - whether by countenancing global privatization of some Internet governance issues through organizations like ICANN, coming to new international agreements on substance and procedure to reduce the friction caused by transborder data flows, or by a "live and let live" set of localization technologies to shape the Internet to suit the respective societies it touches.

These shifts will help ease the tension between the certitudes that the Internet is global, while the imposition of regulation is almost always local. Such cures for the longstanding dilemmas of Internet jurisdiction and governance eliminate the originally cherished aspects of a global Internet as well - urging us to consider the iatrogenic effects of bulldozing online activity to conform more to the boundaries of the physical world that preceded it, and explaining why, in the United States and elsewhere, there are contradictory policies emerging about the Internet's future.

Keywords: internet, jurisdiction, governance, cyberlaw, ICANN, localization, zoning, control

JEL Classification: K2, K13, K4, K42, O3, O33, O34

Suggested Citation

Zittrain, Jonathan L., Be Careful What You Ask For: Reconciling a Global Internet and Local Law. WHO RULES THE NET? Cato Institute, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=395300 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.395300

Jonathan Zittrain (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School and Harvard Kennedy School of Government ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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

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