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Cyber Libertarianism - Real Internet Freedom (Thierer & Szoka)

Cyber Libertarianism - Real Internet Freedom (Thierer & Szoka)



Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka of The Progress & Freedom Foundation are attempting to articulate the core principles of cyber-libertarianism to provide the public and policymakers with a better ...

Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka of The Progress & Freedom Foundation are attempting to articulate the core principles of cyber-libertarianism to provide the public and policymakers with a better understanding of this alternative vision for ordering the affairs of cyberspace. We invite comments and suggestions regarding how we should refine and build-out this outline. We hope this outline serves as the foundation of a book we eventually want to pen defending what we regard as “Real Internet Freedom.”



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    Cyber Libertarianism - Real Internet Freedom (Thierer & Szoka) Cyber Libertarianism - Real Internet Freedom (Thierer & Szoka) Presentation Transcript

    • 01000110011100100110010101100101011001000110111101101101001000000100011001110010011001010110010101100100011011110110110100100000010001100111001001100101011001010110010001101111011011010010000001000110011100100110010101100101011001000110111101101101001000000100011001110010011001010110010101100100011011110110110100100000010001100111001001100101011001010110010001101111011011010010000001000110011100100110010101100101011001000110111101101101001000000100011001110010011001010110010101100100011011110110110100
      Cyber-Libertarianism The Case for Real Internet FreedomVersion 1.0 - Summer 2009
      Adam Thierer & Berin Szoka
    • Our Purpose
      To articulate the core principles of cyber-libertarianism
      To provide the public and policymakers with a better understanding of this alternative vision for ordering the affairs of cyberspace
      Outline for a future book about “Real Internet Freedom”
      To reclaim the term from those who have bastardized it as a mandate for government control of new media
    • Part I: What is Cyber-Libertarianism?
    • Definition of Cyber-Libertarianism
      Individuals—acting in whatever capacity they choose (as citizens, consumers, companies, or collectives)—should be at liberty to pursue their own tastes and interests online
      Mottos: “Live & Let Live” & “Hands Off the ‘Net!”
      Seeks to minimize the scope of state coercion in solving social and economic problems online
      Looks instead to voluntary solutions and arrangementsbased on mutual agreement
    • Real Internet Freedom
      Is not freedom for the State to reorder our affairs
      To supposedly benefit certain people or groups; or
      To improve some amorphous “public interest”
      It’s freedom fromstate action
      Is not about imposing a single utopian vision
      It’s about enabling a “Utopia of Utopias” (per philosopher Robert Nozick): A framework within which many different models of organizing commerce and community can flourish alongside, and in competition with, each other,
      This allows users to pursue their own values and interests and create their own communities
    • Application in Social & Economic Contexts
      Cyber-libertarians draw no distinction between social and economic freedomwhen applying this vision:
      • Social Freedom: Individuals should be granted liberty of conscience, thought, opinion, speech, and expression in online environments
      • Economic Freedom: Individuals should be granted liberty of contract, innovation, and exchange in online environments
      It’s not enough to support liberty of action in one sphere
      Foreclosing freedom in one sphere will eventually affect freedom in the other
    • What about “Code Failures” ?
      The digital equivalent of so-called “market failures”
      We support voluntary, spontaneous, bottom-up, marketplace responses
      We oppose coercive, top-down, governmental solutions
      Only market-driven approaches offer the rapidity and nimbleness necessary to be effective because the Internet is a uniquely dynamic medium
      Cyber-libertarians have a strong aversion to:
      The politicization of technology issues
      Efforts to replace market processes with bureaucratic processes
    • Defining “Markets” Broadly
      Includes monetary & non-monetary transactions
      Includes proprietary & non-proprietary modes of production
      Collaborative, non-proprietary technologies & efforts (e.g., Wikipedia and open source software) can also be “markets”
      But the cyber-libertarian does reject the notion these models are the only acceptable model or that they should be imposed on us by law
      We support techno-agnosticism:  Lawmakers and courts should not be tilting the balance in one direction or the other towards on the “open vs. closed” spectrum
    • Part II: The Intellectual Foundations of Cyber-Libertarianism
    • Traditional Libertarian Philosophy
      Natural Rights philosophers– John Locke, Ayn Rand, The Founders
      Utilitarian philosophers– John Stuart Mill (On Liberty), Herbert Spencer
      “Austrian School” of Economics– Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray Rothbard
      Milton Freidman(Free to Choose)
      Robert Nozick– argued for a minimalist state as a “utopia of utopias”
      Thomas Sowell– critiqued The Vision of the Anointed
      Richard Epstein– (Simple Rules for a Complex World)
    • Modern Cyber-Libertarian Theorists
      Ithiel de Sola Pool(Technologies of Freedom)
      Alvin Toffler(The Third Wave, Future Shock)
      George Gilder(Microcosm, Telecosm)
      Peter Huber(Law & Disorder in Cyberspace)
      Tom W. Bell
      Eugene Volokh
      Jonathan Emord(Freedom, Technology & the First Amendment)
      Technology Liberation Front– the cyber-libertarian group blog since 2004
    • Internet Exceptionalists
      Nicholas Negroponte(Being Digital)
      John Perry Barlow(“Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”)
      David Post
      Eric Goldman
      H. Brian Holland
    • Part III: The Contrast with Cyber-Collectivism
    • Cyber-Collectivism Defined
      The opposite of cyber-libertarianism: cyber-choices should be guided by the State or an elite according to some amorphous “general will” or “public interest” 
      Distant influences of Plato, Rousseau & Marx
      Cyber-collectivism comes in many flavors, however:
      “Left”: focused on economic fairness, “neutrality,” and equality of outcomes
      “Right”: controlling the Internet’s impact on culture or security
      Not as philosophically coherent as cyber-libertarianism—which also comes in many flavors but shares a larger core of common agreement
    • Relationship Between Cyber-Collectivism & “Digital Commons” Movement
      Leftist cyber-collectivists & the “information commons” or “digital commons” movement share belief that digital resources should be shared or commonly owned
      We don’t object to commons, only to mandating them
      Are generally not Marxists; few of them call for state ownership of the information means of production
      Might better be thought of a “cyber-social Democrats” (European) or “Digital New Dealers” (American)
      Advocate a generous role for law and regulation in many online matters, but do not typically resort to full-blown nationalization
    • Exponents of Cyber-Collectivism
      Lawrence Lessig (Code)
      Tim Wu (Who Controls the Internet?)
      YochaiBenkler (The Wealth of Networks)
      Jonathan Zittrain (The Future of the Internet & How to Stop It)
      David Bollier (Viral Spiral)
      Harvard’s Berkman Center*
      New America Foundation*
      Public Knowledge*
      (*We are, of course, generalizing a bit here. Not everyone in these institutions is a cyber-collectivist and, again, there are many flavors of cyber-collectivism, just as there are many flavors of cyber-libertarianism.)
    • Part IV: How Cyber-Libertarians Think about Various Policy Issues 
    • Issue: Free Speech & Online Child Safety
      The First Amendment is of paramount importance and should apply equally to all speakers and media platforms
      We favor parental empowerment and education, and industry self-regulation over censorship
      “Household standards” should trump “community standards” & “public interest” regulatory mandates
    • Issue:Privacy Policy & Online Advertising
      The real “Big Brother” problem is state surveillance, not private data collection
      Privacy is a profoundly subjective condition
      Regulations to “protect privacy” could have serious unintended consequences for freedom of speech and the growth of online content and commerce
      User empowerment & industry self-regulation represent the superior way to address privacy concerns
    • Issue: Net Neutrality & Infrastructure Regulation
      “Open access” regulation is nothing more than infrastructure socialism
      Network operators should be free to own, operate and price their systems & services as they see fit, subject only to enforcement of their terms of service & other contracts with their users
      New entry & innovation work better than regulating yesterday’s networks & technologies
    • “Market power” & “code failures” are best dealt with by spontaneous evolution of markets & new entry, not bureaucratic micro-management of old technologies or market structures
      Cyber-markets are evolutionary & dynamic
      Disruptive innovation usually unseats incumbents
      Regulation often creates, or tends to foster, most monopolies
      Antitrust is often used as weapon by disgruntled marketplace competitors to hobble rivals
      Issue: Antitrust & Competition
    • Issue: Internet Taxation & State Regulation
      No special taxes should be imposed on online services or Internet access
      If the Net disrupts traditional tax bases, that should be seen as an opportunity to reform those tax systems
      States shouldn’t be regulating the uniquely global medium of the Internet or imposing barriers to interstate commerce
    • Issue: Online Gambling
      People should be free to do as they please with their money
      We shouldn’t protect state-run lotteries and casinos
      Internet gambling is likely impossible to shut down entirely anyway, given the uniquely global nature of the Internet
    • Issue: Copyright & Patents
      Cyber-libertarians are deeply divided over IP issues (esp. copyright), reflecting a long-standing division among libertarians on these issues
      Some believe IP rights are a natural extension of traditional property rights and/or a sensible way to incentivize scientific and artistic creativity
      Others believe no one has a right to “property-tize” intangible creations or that copyright is simply industrial protectionism
      There are many views in between
    • For more information…
      Please visit The Technology Liberation Front
      The cyber-libertarian group public policy blog
      21 contributors
      4,500+ posts since 2004
      16,000 unique monthly viewers
    • About the Authors
      Adam Thierer is a Senior Fellow at The Progress & Freedom Foundation (PFF) & Director of PFF’s Center for Digital Media Freedom (CDMF). Thierer analyzes public policy developments that impact the economic and social aspects of the media industry, including related First Amendment issues. Prior to joining PFF in 2005, he was Director of Telecommunications Studies at the Cato Institute and a Fellow in Economic Policy at the Heritage Foundation.Berin Szoka is a PFF Senior Fellow & Director of PFF’s Center for Internet Freedom (CIF). Szoka studies the laws and regulations that govern cyberspace. Previously, he was an Associate in the Communications Practice Group at Latham and Watkins LLP, where he advised clients on regulations affecting the Internet and telecommunications industries.