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

Milton L Mueller mueller at syr.edu
Tue Jul 12 12:46:20 EDT 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: governance at lists.cpsr.org [mailto:governance at lists.cpsr.org] On
> The internet originated in governmental efforts 

Internet protocol (TCP/IP) was developed with governmental research funding, not "the Internet." "The Internet" infrastructure was developed, as Daniel correctly notes, by private network operators building things and interconnecting with it. And the reason it succeeded was because it was an open protocol, not owned. I.e., it was the ABSENCE of control, not its presence, that made it successful.

> and could not exist
> without the robust legal infrastructure and some physical
> infrastructure provided by governments. 

Bollocks. This whole line of argument is just silly. Some local government provides a road for a truck to ride on and that means it has an unqualified right to regulate anything and everything that happens in global communications? What kind of an argument is this? 

Sure, insofar as governments secure basic property rights and contractual rights and administer justice, a  "legal infrastructure" has been helpful. But just as often, govts overstep those bounds and try to obstruct, parasitize, over-regulate or overtax. We need to debate the merits of a specific intervention; this argument makes no sense in the abstract. 

So please, stay on point and tell me why a specific locality in Taiwan should be able to tax and assert regulatory power over an app provider in California;, tell me what benefit accrues and how such taxation without representation is consistent with democratic principles. And tell me - as Parminder, Lee, Michael and others keep ducking the issue - how it is practically feasible to have 100,000 different jurisdictions come bearing down on any and every virtual service provider?  If you and the others continue to remain silent on the obvious practical issue associated with that, I won't take you seriously for another second. 

> Thus, there's no getting around the necessity for government
> involvement at a material level.  The real issue is to what extent, if
> any, government ought to abdicate or forego its traditional roles in
> the context of the internet.

No, the real issue is that Internet _breaks_ the governments' traditional roles in communication and information, and we need to figure out how we can revise governmental functions to insert control where needed without killing the freedom and openness that makes the internet valuable. And that was the debate we were trying to have, until you detoured it into a general, philosophical and mostly useless debate on government per se. 

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