Can the Internet be Governed?

Article by Akash Kapur: “…During the past decade or so, however, governments around the world have grown impatient with the notion of Internet autarky. A trickle of halfhearted interventions has built into what the legal scholar Anu Bradford calls a “cascade of regulation.” In “Digital Empires” (Oxford), her comprehensive and insightful book on global Internet policy, she describes a series of skirmishes—between regulators and companies, and among regulators themselves—whose outcomes will “shape the future ethos of the digital society and define the soul of the digital economy.”

Other recent books echo this sense of the network as being at a critical juncture. Tom Wheeler, a former chairman of the F.C.C., argues in “Techlash: Who Makes the Rules in the Digital Gilded Age?” (Brookings) that we are at “a legacy moment for this generation to determine whether, and how, it will assert the public interest in the new digital environment.” In “The Internet Con” (Verso), Doctorow makes a passionate case for “relief from manipulation, high-handed moderation, surveillance, price-gouging, disgusting or misleading algorithmic suggestions”; he argues that it is time to “dismantle Big Tech’s control over our digital lives and devolve control to the people.” In “Read Write Own” (Random House), Chris Dixon, a venture capitalist, says that a network dominated by a handful of private interests “is neither the internet I want to see nor the world I wish to live in.” He writes, “Think about how much of your life you live online, how much of your identity resides there. . . . Whom do you want in control of that world?”…(More)”.