In his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford University, argues that the future shape of the Internet depends on the actions we take to define it. He writes that, in order to protect freedom on the Net, we need to take actions to safeguard the values we cherish. The action he upholds is educated, government intervention rather than libertarian market faith. Lessig believes that we should not sit idle and hope that the Internet will fix itself. He criticizes the belief that the Internet is a sovereign entity without ties to the traditional legal system and warns that this fallacy could lead to the demise of core values such as free speech, privacy and anonymity, to name a few. To maintain these values and to save the Internet from over-regulation, Lessig proposes - counter intuitively - increased regulation. To begin, Lessig describes four methods of regulation that apply to both cyberspace and the natural world: 1) regulation through network architecture (code); 2) societal regulations (what is considered appropriate social behavior); 3) The market costs associated with maintaining parts of the Internet; 4) The law. Combined, these work together to regulate our Internet behavior. Of these, however, Lessig believes the most effective form of regulation online is through architecture, “[online,] code is law” (pg 5). Because of the legal power code holds, Lessig cautions against the commercialization of code, which he believes will lead to the privatization of law and increased governmental control. In response, Lessig proposes that we subject private entities to increased constitutional controls. He also argues in favor of open-source code which, like the laws governing the natural world, can be examined by everyone.
Summary of Lessig's argument
Lessig's argument is neatly divided into four parts. These four parts are presented in the four sections of the book. We provide here a summary of those four sections.
Submitted as part of the final project in CS 181 by:
Calvin Fernandez, Christophe Chong, Eli Hart, Dilli Raj Paudel, Jonathan Kuo