Illusions of a Borderless World
Oxford University Press
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Is the Internet erasing national borders? Will the future of
the Net be set by Internet engineers, rogue programmers, the
United Nations, or powerful countries? Who's really in
control of what's happening on the Net?
In this provocative new book, Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu tell
the fascinating story of the Internet's challenge to
governmental rule in the 1990s, and the ensuing battles with
governments around the world. It's a book about the fate of
one idea--that the Internet might liberate us forever from
government, borders, and even our physical selves. We learn
of Google's struggles with the French government and Yahoo's
capitulation to the Chinese regime; of how the European
Union sets privacy standards on the Net for the entire
world; and of eBay's struggles with fraud and how it slowly
to trust the FBI. In a decade of events the original vision
is uprooted, as governments time and time again assert their
power to direct the future of the Internet. The destiny of
the Internet over the next decades, argue Goldsmith and Wu,
will reflect the interests of powerful nations and the
conflicts within and between them.
While acknowledging the many attractions of the earliest
visions of the Internet, the authors describe the new order,
and speaking to both its surprising virtues and unavoidable
vices. Far from destroying the Internet, the experience of
the last decade has lead to a quiet rediscovery of some of
the oldest functions and justifications for territorial
government. While territorial governments have unavoidable
problems, it has proven hard to replace what legitimacy
governments have, and harder yet to replace the system of
rule of law that controls the unchecked evils of anarchy.
Net will change some of the ways that territorial states
govern, it will not diminish the oldest and most fundamental
roles of government and challenges of governance.
Well written and filled with fascinating examples, including
colorful portraits of many key players in Internet history,
this is a work that is bound to stir heated debate in the
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