[governance] FW: TP: city government exercising policy on Google Applications / consumer rights / Consumer Protection Act / trial period

Paul Lehto lehto.paul at gmail.com
Tue Jul 12 12:37:33 EDT 2011

On 7/12/11, Milton L Mueller <mueller at syr.edu> wrote:
[snip] I did
> attach a very specific restriction on the scope of the word. I asserted that
> a government that tries to regulate a virtual business - basically, software
> downloaded from the internet - with no physical presence in its jurisdiction
> is being parasitical. Actually governments can and often are parasitical
> even when they confine their activities to entities in their own space. If
> you are not familiar with this phenomenon you haven't read much about some
> of the problems developing countries have had getting their economies going
> (including Western developing countries in the early stages of their
> development prior to hard-won battles over democracy and the rule of law).

You've expanded your prior "specific" scope a substantial amount here,
including physical presence, at least in developing countries.
Governments routinely exercise non-physical jurisdiction in
non-controversial ways outside their borders, such as nationals of
country X being protected by government X.   There's nothing magical
about "non-physical" -- Why should government X not have jurisdiction
of any kind because a "non-physical" cyber attack is launched against
it?  Or why should someone be able to stand in a different
jurisidiction and make thousands of phone calls into country X and
avoid country X's jurisdiction because the contact is "non-physical"
because electronic?

In a computerized world the classical physical non-physical
distinction is basically erased, and even in the classical world
governments exercised jurisdiction outside their borders when their
own nationals were involved.

> What people need from governments is stable rules, fair enforcement of rules
> that protect and liberate humans. Sometimes they get that, sometimes they
> don't. It would be uncontroversial on this list to say that private
> corporations can be greedy and exploitive. It ought to be equally
> uncontroversial to say that governments can be, too.

Agreed.  But corporations are not accountable to people generally even
in THEORY.  At least governments, in theory and to have a claim for
legitimacy, must be accountable or at least pretend to be accountable.
 Corporations, on the other hand, can be subjected to a derivative
lawsuit for waste of corporate assets if they serve anyone except the
shareholders' profit interest.  This is a very significant difference.

> Did you forget what we are talking about? Please tell me how 100,000
> different local governments "exercising policy on Google applications" keeps
> the internet "well." You can start with that example, and perhaps move on to
> the Chinese GFW from there. Let's see how convincing a case you can make.
> Use facts, not generalities, for a change.

As a US Citizen,  you are familiar with the advantages of federalism
with our 50 states and the distribution of power between state and
federal branches.  The same arguments are made against 50 states
having their freedom to make different business laws as are made with
your "100,000 different local governments."  Without necessarily
defending the 100,000 angle, reasonable people can support distributed
power such as federalist systems as well as centralized power (to
avoid the problems of the 100,000).  But centralized power (need I say
more than this phrase?) has problems of its own.

I'm arguing policy and law here, so you may perceive it as short on
facts.  In a policy debate, this is natural and not a deficiency.  If
you want to bring facts to bear on a policy principle of  your own, or
mine, you are welcome to do that.

Paul R. Lehto, J.D.

Paul R Lehto, J.D.
P.O. Box 1
Ishpeming, MI  49849
lehto.paul at gmail.com
906-204-4026 (cell)
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