Author(s): Pamela Samuelson
Abstract: The Internet is unquestionably having a profound effect on many aspects of the social, cultural, economic, and legal systems of planet Earth. Indeed, advances in the Internet and in other global communications technologies make it possible to contemplate the development of a global information society. Such a society may offer many benefits to humankind, but constructing policies to enable and promote this information society presents significant challenges. Among the most difficult questions now confronting legal decisionmakers are these: Can existing laws successfully be applied to activities occurring via the Internet? Can existing law be adapted to regulate these activities? Are existing laws outmoded or inadequate? Are completely new laws needed to deal with Internet and other information technology developments?
When old laws do not fit and cannot easily be adapted, it may be necessary to go back to first principles and consider how to preserve social and cultural values in the new context of the Internet. Decisions about the law of the Internet, whether carried out by judges, legislatures, or regulators, will have an important impact on the kind of information economy and information society that will emerge. This article offers some suggestions about how regulators might more wisely make policy choices to promote a global information society in which we would all like to live.
Keywords: global information society, regulation