the Irish for rights

The Internet and the Project of Communications Law

Required reading for anyone who reads this blog:

ViolaSusan P. Crawford The Internet and the Project of Communications Law 55 UCLA L Rev 359 (2007) (pdf)

Abstract: The Internet offers the potential for economic growth stemming from online human communications. But recent industry and government actions have disfavored these possibilities by treating the Internet like a content-delivery supply chain. This Article recommends that the Internet be at the center of communications policy. It criticizes the nearly exclusive focus of communications policy on the private economic success of infrastructure and application providers, and suggests that communications policy be focused on facilitating communications themselves.

More particularly, she argues strongly in favour of encouraging diversity as a significant element of communications policy:

The key organizing principle for communications law must be to support the emergence of diverse new ideas online as this is where economic growth for society as a whole will come from. This form of diversity support is not the same as the kind of quota-driven, artificial diversity that has been used to force broadcast content regulation to reflect minority viewpoints. Rather, this kind of online diversity stems from allowing the end-to-end, content-neutral, layer-independent functions of the Internet to flourish, and allowing groups and human attention to pick and choose from among the ideas presented online, enabling good ideas to persist and replicate.

And, of course, she argues strongly in favour of network neutrality and strongly against allowing providers to treat some users of the network differently, and concludes that, “given that economic growth is created by the emergence of new ideas, the proper role of government should be to support the diversity of complex social interactions online”. And she ends with a clarion call that should resonate across the net:

We need to reframe communications law to support what matters. What matters are communications themselves, and the increasingly diverse and valuable ideas they produce.

It is a superb piece, I loved it, and I think that it is destined to become a classic. This is unsurprising. Susan Crawford is one of cyberlaw‘s most incisive commentators; she blogs here; and is a member of the board of directors of ICANN. In her day job, she is Associate Professor, Cardozo School of Law, and for this academic year is Visiting Professor, University of Michigan Law School (Fall 2007) and Visiting Professor, Yale Law School (Spring 2008). Oh, and she is no mean violist either.

Leave a Reply



Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I'm Eoin O'Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie - the Irish for rights.

"Cearta" really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links


  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.