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Net Regulation: Taking Stock and Looking Forward

Benkler, Yochai, "Net Regulation: Taking Stock and Looking Forward" . Available at SSRN:


    The paper reports on a survey of over 700 bills and public laws passed in Congress in the 1990s in which keywords like "internet," "ecommerce," "Web" or similar terms appear. It maps these occurances as expressions of the political zeitgeist of the 1990s with regard to Internet regulation. Based on these observations, the paper briefly identifies three areas of focus: infrastructure development, harnessing the Net to provision of traditional public goods, and stabilization of information flow patterns. It then discusses in more detail the latter category, suggesting that a series of legislative activities can best be analyzed as responses to perceived destabilization of patterns of control over the flow of information in society. These responses can then be analyzed and normatively critiqued by reference to the patterns of control over information that they adopt or are likely to cause, compared to the alternative patterns of information flow control that could have obtained following the moment of destabilization. This approach then treats within a single normative framework problems as diverse as pornography regulation, consumer privacy, encryption, property in digitized information goods, and trademarks in domain names.
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