Digest: The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was established to provide self-regulation of the Internet by netizens. This includes managing such issues as privacy, intellectual property rights and security. The first matter handled by ICANN, the regulation of Internet domain names (.com, .net, and .org) seemed simple enough. It seems, however, that nothing related to the Internet is simple, especially when it comes to governance decisions.
Guide to the Readings: These readings seek to provide a general overview of some of the issues that have faced ICANN during its brief history. In particular, the news articles discuss the mandate, the promise, and the criticisms of ICANN, both in the recent past and at present, following the Cairo meeting of ICANN this Spring. The letter from Ralph Nader and James Love to ICANN Chair Esther Dyson provides a sense of the consumer-oriented criticisms of ICANN's policies. Esther Dyson's response to that letter helps tell the ICANN side of the story. Do not worry if the "Tao of the IETF" does not make sense to you immediately; it will snap into place as we discuss the readings in context. The Tao piece is most relevant to the story in giving a sense of how Internet governance decisions were made (or not made, as the case may be) prior to ICANN's inception and a flavor for how Internet insiders relate to one another and to their organizations.
- National Journal, "ICANN't Believe What They're Doing"
- The New York Times, "What's in a Name?", Jeri Clausing, March 13, 2000, (distributed in packet)
- The Tao of IETF -- A Guide for New Attendees of the Internet Engineering Task Force
- Letter from Ralph Nader and James Love to Esther Dyson, June 11, 1999
- Response letter from Esther Dyson to Nader and Love, June 15, 1999
- The Industry Standard, "ICANN: Slow as the Nile"
Controlling content on the Internet: Public and Private Restrictions
Digest: The Internet contains a vast array of information and resources available at
the click of a mouse. This material, however, may be offensive, harmful,
or inappropriate for children or other Internet users. What steps can
private citizens, parents, schools and public libraries take to avoid such
content? Does this infringe on other's rights, particularly in the public
context? How have the world's nations reacted to the speech-in-cyberspace
Guide to the Readings: These readings are intended to provide you with insight into some of the most important aspects of the speech-in-cyberspace quagmire, including filtering, blocking, censorship, and the public-private divide. The Mainstream Loudon case examines what happens when a public library seeks to address the perceived problem of access to purportedly offensive material on the Internet at public computer terminals. Prof. Lessig's article examines the variety of ways in which the infrastructure of the Internet itself plays into the speech debate. SurfWatch and Cyber Patrol offer glimpses of voluntary, private-sector efforts to allow some people to restrict the Internet access of others -- usually children. The two American news articles examine some of the effects and problems of regulating speech and viewership on-line. The German news article delves into one way in which German authorities have dealt with pornography on-line.
- Mainstream Loudon v. Loudon County Library (Tech Law Journal Summary)
- Lawrence Lessig, Tyranny of the Infrastructure, Wired 5.07 (July 1997)
Core Category Criteria
- Cyber Patrol Fact Sheet
- Declan McCullagh, Banned in Boston, The Netly News, February 27, 1997
- Brock N. Meeks &
Declan McCullagh, Jacking
in from the "Keys to the Kingdom" Port, CyberWire Dispatch (1996)
- Wired News/Germany, German Net Porn Conviction
Digest: Advances in Internet technology and the growth of massive databases have driven growth in productivity and created massive shareholder value across the globe. But back home, are these advances threatening a right that many people, at least in America and other like-minded nations, hold dear -- our right to privacy? Some Internet gurus argue that we need to pay close attention to the erosion of our privacy by private corporations and public agencies. Others say the privacy threat may be real, but the fix shouldn't come from on high. Yet others say that the threat is more perceived than real. Who poses the greatest threat to our privacy: Web site operators, software makers, chip makers, our employers, the government, or "crackers" like the kid next door? Can we protect our privacy while taking advantage of all that the Internet has to offer?
Guide to the Readings: These readings seek to explore the range of perspectives on the Internet privacy issue -- and the range is actually quite broad. Prof. Lessig depicts what many have described as a "dark" picture of the current state of privacy on-line, if not a "dark" future as well if we remain on our present course. David Brin steps away from that perspective, and argues that maybe it's not so bad, after all. Solveig Singleton attacks privacy-related regulations as a form of censorship; it's a well-written, but fairly scholarly and policy-oriented, piece. The FTC report -- rather long overall -- is worth at least a skimming to understand some of the US Federal Government's concerns regarding on-line privacy. P3P gives a sense of how the private sector can play a critical role in privacy protection -- as well as privacy reduction. The Guglielmo/Rodger piece sets the privacy debate into the e-commerce context and looks at economic implications of privacy policies. Finally, the UK article examines that nation's high-profile legislative attempt to protect the privacy of Internet users.
-Larry Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Chapter 11: Privacy (distributed in packet)
- David Brin, The Transparent Society, Chapter One (you have to follow the link "Books, Books, Books" and then scroll down to the link for "Chapter One")
-Solveig Singleton, Privacy as Censorship: A Skeptical View of Proposals to Regulate Privacy in the Private Sector, Cato Policy Analysis No. 295, January 22, 1998.
-FTC, Privacy Online: A Report to Congress, June 1998, parts I &V (skim).
- P3P and Privacy on the Web FAQ
Guglielmo & Will Rodger, "Can Net Privacy Coexist with E-Commerce?,"
Interactive Week Online, Dec. 17, 1997
- Wired News, Ripping into UK Privacy Bill
Digest: How many times have you heard someone say "the Internet is the wave of the future"? Or, "The Internet has transformed the global economy"? Or, "The Internet is changing the way we do business forever"? It's become almost a cliché to adopt an Internet strategy for a business or to found a start-up Internet company. But what's really going on in the E-commerce Revolution? What, if anything, has changed about how we do business? How much of the "dot com" phenomenon is hype and how much is reality? Are the astronomical valuations -- in markets around the world -- of recently-formed Internet companies even remotely justified? What will the next wave of e-businesses look like? This session will delve into the changing landscape of e-commerce by examining business models and conventional e-wisdom past, present and future.
Guide to the Readings: These readings take a chronological look at the way in which the conventional wisdom regarding business models for making money on the Internet have changed over the past five years or so. We start with the Internet Service Provider and early Portal model, whereby companies like AOL and Yahoo! got people on-line, gave them something to look at and places to go, and promised investors they'd make a lot of money by doing so -- it was a time when "content was king." Shortly thereafter, the mantra became "eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs" and the emphasis fell on how to make money off those "eyeballs." The answer, primarily, was B2C e-commerce, or business-to-consumer e-commerce -- selling things to consumers on-line. Today and looking forward, B2C is way out of favor, and the hot thing is B2B -- business-to-business e-commerce, or the facilitation of on-line sales between businesses. Other popular business models of today and tomorrow include Internet Infrastructure and Wireless Technologies. The readings also seek to get into the culture of e-commerce start-ups, a phenomenon that's draining brains from the finest universities and the most competitive, profitable old economy companies. In addition, the MIT Technology Review piece looks at the importance of Intellectual Property law to the success of e-commerce. The readings seek to trace these trends while pointing out much of the promise, and some of the pitfalls, of the Internet gold rush.
Conventional Wisdom, circa 1995-1996:
ISPs and Portals: Eyeballs, Eyeballs, Eyeballs (or, Content is King)
- RedHerring.com, "Road Map for the Internet"
- Upside.com, "Tim
Koogle Defends Yahoo's Outrageous Valuation"
Conventional Wisdom, circa 1997-1998:
B2C: E-commerce Takes Center Stage (or, Sell 'em Stuff)
- RedHerring.com, "Give or Take $100 Billion"
- Upside.com, "Diary of a Start-up"
Conventional Wisdom, circa 1999-2000:
B2Bs and Infrastructure Plays (or, Road to Profitability a Must?)
- Forbes, "When Start-ups Become Blow-ups"
- CNET, "Taking Stock of 1999"
- Fortune, "The
B2B Tool that Really Is Changing the World"
- MIT Technology Review, "Software Patents Tangle the Web"
Charles Nesson, Harvard Law School
William F. Weld Professor of Law
Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society