Who Controls the Internet?

Yvette Miller ⬥ 28 October

I just finished Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu’s Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World, a book I started reading methodically to brush up on the nuts and bolts of Internet rule but ended up reading like a collection of short stories- leisurely and for conversation.

Who Controls the Internet? uses anecdotes and figures to guide its readers through pivotal points in Internet history—both those in the past, such as the rise and fall of the online music-sharing network Napster, and those that still exist to confound and intrigue the present, such as China’s ability to intricately control its population’s online access and behavior. With this format, the book explores the challenges of the Internet in a world that on the one hand has greater fluidity of information through increased globalization and ease of communication, and on the other has the natural desire to preserve differences, beliefs, culture and distinctive communities.

Narratives such as 22 year-old Liu Di’s arrest in Beijing for criticizing the Chinese government online or billionaire Joseph Gutnick’s legal action against an American online news source under Australian law all come down to one key take away- even in a borderless Internet, geography matters. And because geography matters, there is the necessary consideration of a government’s role in protecting rights and preventing harms. For example, what happens when the cause and effect of online content are in two countries whose definitions of rights and harms differ?

Who Controls the Internet? poses some great questions and ventures arguments that are worthwhile to consider – in an entertaining format to boot. It also makes for an interesting read in the context of the recent Kentucky court decision to seize domain names related to the gambling industry. 

Tags: Australian Law, Beijing, domain names, gambling industry, globalization, Internet, Internet governance, Jack Goldsmith, Joseph Gutnick, Kentucky court, Liu Di, Napster, Tim Wu

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