Section 2: Regulation by Code
Lessig believes that the architecture of the internet - or the code itself - has the potential of becoming a regulator. This type of regulation in not applied to individuals through threat, but through "a kind of physics." There are several ways in which access to the internet could be restricted to individuals. The most obvious of which is the requirement of a good password to log into most sites.
Lessig says the cyberspace will provide ways of interacting with other people in very new ways. The uniqueness of these interactions make it difficult to regulate them using existing laws. Therefore, he asserts that the cyberspace will primarily be regulated by the cyberspace. And code will be the supreme law in the cyberspace.
Before diving into why code will be regulable and the regulator, Lessig lays out four different factors that determine how and to what extent the cyberspace will be regulated. They are: the law, the norms of the society, the market and architecture (which sums up the design and implementation decisions related to any system). He provides examples of AOL, Counsel Connect (an online forum for lawyers) and LambdaMOO to analyze how each of the four factors influence how the behavior is regulated in these communities. He says AOL is largely regulated by strict monitoring on the part of the service provider; Counsel Connect is governed by the common set of norms upheld by its members; and LambdaMOO is governed by norms and popular mandate. Later in the section, Lessig points out that the market plays a role by rewarding popular sites. The architectural regulation might involve password requirement to gain access to a site. The law contributes by protecting intellectual property rights, and punishing defamation and oscenity.
The nature of cyberspace makes it possible to effect regulation through code. But this regulation could be enforced directly or indirectly. In the first case, the government could use code directly to trace the behavior of certain individuals or groups. In the second case, it could influence companies and internet service providers to make users' behavior more traceable. The extent of regulation depends on the character of code employed to trace behavior. If the code is open, it is less regulable; if it closed, it is more so.
While Lessig admits that code-based regulation can interfere with some of our democratic values, he also argues that certain values can only be protected by the government.