Due to the fact that even though I am a political scientist, deep down I find law kind of interesting I based the empirical section of my dissertation partly on laws and ruling concerning cyberspace. This is one of the reasons why I am a regular reader of the US based Electronic Frontier Foundation publications. Skimming through the newsletters of EFF from the past eight months, I thought it might be interesting to have some research on the different categories laws and court rulings relate to. Therefore, I categorized them into privacy issues, cyber security related issues, trademark and copyright as well as regulation, censorship and freedom of speech. After skimming through news articles from the past eight months, the following picture started to manifest:
The number one topic of bills, laws and court decisions is privacy. This involves, but is not limited to privacy of individuals against state authorities for example when it comes down to wiretapping. Additionally that includes the privacy of citizens towards each other and companies, as an example just let me name-drop Facebook here. The second place was scored by Free Speech and related issues. This category involved censorship by the state, regulations of Internet access, lawsuits caused by the use of the right for free speech et cetera. The second place has also been scored by copyright and trademark issues. Most of the time involving media companies but not limited to, how the Hadopi case shows. Far behind, cyber security scored fourth. Cyber Security for that matter contains national as well as individual digital security.
2. Free Speech
4. Cyber Security
Due to the fact, that I would consider myself as cyber libertarian, I was curious who is most affected and how. Therefore, I created three groups: citizens, companies and states. Then, I linked these three groups to the implications of the above mentioned categories and ordered them by who (first stakeholder) threatens who (second stakeholder). Citizens versus Business (Copyright) for examples indicates that citizen threaten business by committing copyright infringements. The (non-academic) outcome is the following:
1. State versus Citizens (Privacy, Free Speech)
2. Business versus Citizens (Privacy, Free Speech)
3. Citizens versus Citizens (Privacy)
3. State versus Business (Privacy)
5. Citizens versus Business (Copyright)
5. Business versus Business (Copyright)
7. State versus State (Cybersecurity)
7. Citizens versus State (Cybersecurity)
obviously, the most threatened stakeholder is you, the citizen!
Being an admirer of Barlow’s Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, I would like to say that the parts who constitute the cyberspace (you and me) are most threatened by externalities. We are threatened by entities which do not belong to the cyberspace, states and companies. Their pursue is the regulation and control of the cyberspace. Even though the US as funding actor and cradle of the Internet may have some rights derived from the past I can not tolerate any other attempt to seize control over cyberspace. Therefore, you should know, defend and help to implement your rights!
take care on your journey through cyberspace, traveler!