Manipulating the Governance Characteristics of Code

8 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2003

See all articles by Rajiv C. Shah

Rajiv C. Shah

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Communication; Illinois State University

Jay P. Kesan

University of Illinois College of Law


Regulation through "code," i.e., the hardware and software of communication technologies, is growing in importance. Policymakers are addressing societal concerns such as privacy, freedom of speech, and intellectual property protection with code-based solutions. While scholars have noted the role of code, there is little analysis of the various features or characteristics of code that have significance in regulating behavior. This paper examines three universal governance characteristics that policymakers may use to ensure code comports with societal concerns. The characteristics that are studied are transparency, defaults, and standards. For each characteristic, the paper discusses the salient regulatory issues for manipulating code. Additionally, the paper provides normative proposals for modifying some characteristics, such as defaults. In the future, our analysis should aid policymakers seeking to manipulate code to ensure that code comports with our societal values and addresses our societal concerns.

Keywords: Information, Communication processes, Technology led strategy, Regulation, Standards, Modulators

Suggested Citation

Shah, Rajiv and Kesan, Jay P., Manipulating the Governance Characteristics of Code. Available at SSRN: or

Rajiv Shah

University of Illinois at Chicago - Department of Communication ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States


Illinois State University ( email )

Normal, IL 61790
United States

Jay P. Kesan (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-333-7887 (Phone)
217-244-1478 (Fax)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics