Law in the Internet Society

Everyone has a Price

-- By ChrisSeelinger - 16 May 2013

In the fight for control of the net, those who wished to preserve their control of information and channels of communication marshaled significant resources and capital to keep Congress beholden to their interests.

What fight in particular? Why the past tense: Has a fight for control of the Net ended? Does this mean "Lobbying is going on"?

Lobbyists were deployed, meetings were held, and donations were made to all the necessary players.

Passive voice prevents us from knowing who did these things. So we still haven't been told who or what you're talking about.

The result of those efforts in the 90’s and 2000’s speaks for itself in the language of the laws governing intellectual property, telecommunications, content distribution, digital privacy, etc. Those who had their positions of wealth and power threatened by the net have been able to largely preserve their positions through policy in the US.

Why are the events of
  1. to 20 years ago the relevant events to discuss? Is this a historical essay? What is its thesis?

Now corporations and the technologies they “own” that stand in the way of freedom face a fresh set of challenges to their position. These groups understand that the laws put in place to protect their interests are deeply flawed and will not be around forever. In the future, as the fight for net freedom reaches its next apex, these groups will be able to leverage their databases, access, and capital to subvert or undermine those seeking a free net. Those who benefit from the status quo know that they don’t need to have everyone on their side all the time, but simply the right people aligned to their interests at the right time. In the last few presidential elections we have seen how just a few hundred million dollars can be used to finance complex political campaigns whose use of data and statistics lies beyond the understanding of even the most sophisticated news sources. Meanwhile the groups who profit from an un-free net have even more nuanced data on the American public and have not millions, but billions of dollars at their disposal to throw at anything that might undermine their business model. To further complicate the problem, those who depend upon an un-free net may not need to “win” any votes or even compel action, simply maintaining the status quo of complacency and acceptance might be enough.

All indefinite. At this level of generality, we could be talking about any public policy problem.

Of course a corporation using their influence, wealth, and power to distract or persuade the public is nothing new. What is new, however, is the unprecedented level of data and access that the public has ceded to these groups.

"Ceded" how?

Political campaigns have used similar information to simulate every voter in the country and utilized simulations to assess how those voters might be influenced. It would not be farfetched to imagine a company using its vast databases of consumer information to launch a sophisticated public relations campaign to produce desired behavior in sufficient quantities to reach specific goals and outcomes. These campaigns might simply be an evolution of the current PAC’s, with even greater understanding of their audience. While this is a basic example, the full ability of certain entities to influence the public discourse appears to remain largely unrealized and is potentially the greatest threat to anyone fighting for freedom. The basic relationships are already in place between big businesses, news media, and government, but the full extent or “synergy” between these groups to shape the dialogue of anything from content distribution to what the next generation of IP laws may look like, is far from its full potential. The US government has already employed online “sock puppets” as a part of Operation Earnest Voice to counter what it deems “enemy propaganda”.

A link would be good. Some reference to the relevant law on the subject of government funded propaganda would also be useful.

It would not be a difficult leap for corporations to expand this sort of operation domestically against any kind of conversation. This practice already common when it comes to commercial speech in the form of product reviews, it will certainly be even harder to detect or regulate non-commercial speech designed to create fear, uncertainty and doubt in all sorts of new contexts.

Why do we want to regulate advertising or public debate?

Corporations in the digital age are well aware of the value that your information has. An important question in the fight for freedom is if the public can resist the charms of an un-free net. In today’s gridlocked policymaking environment it would be expect any kind of progress if lobbyists stand against it and the public has noiselessly accepted the status quo of online privacy. We have seen this strategy work time and time again in the interest of tech companies and against the interest of consumer privacy. It may be argued that users simply weren’t aware of what they were giving away or that in-fact they could me more accurately classified as products than customers. However, even with the gift of knowledge and truth, will the public be able to resist the temptation to slowly sell themselves away for another “free” service or other creative methods of packaged utility? It is an interesting notion that perhaps that public prefers to be deceived and kept in the dark. JCPenney’s recently abandoned its new “everyday low prices” model that vanquished most “sales” in favor of a more honest, transparent model that favored lower average prices. The new CEO found that constantly managing sales was a costly exercise in deception. The plan ultimately backfired and analysts found that JCPenney’s target market actually preferred participating in the ruse of constant sales for the psychological benefits it provided. The companies that benefit from an un-free net know a lot more about their customers than JCPenney and that have many more options to provide the sorts of benefits that will keep us content with our arrangement.

Because JC Penny does not participate in the forms of customer tracking used by other retailers? What evidence do you have for that proposition? What do the mistakes of Mr Johnson have to do with the theme of the essay?

Not surprisingly, given the last-minute nature of the work, the necessary revisions are the ones that take time. The draft is diffuse: what is its central organizing idea? The draft is non-specific: it links nothing, refers to nothing, collects a couple of facts apparently at random and places them, apparently offhand, in a couple of grafs. The draft is unstructured: what is its outline, its progression from statement through development to conclusion?

The best way to revise is to start fresh, not trying to get out of law school under time pressure, but for the purpose of exploring an idea. Start from that idea, simply stated in a concise sentence or two at the beginning of the draft. Develop the idea, by showing what new learning you have done about society, Net and the law sustains that idea, considering the likeliest significant objections, counterargument, and interfering doctrines in order to make your analysis stronger. Then conclude by showing the reader how she could take your idea further on her own.


Webs Webs

r4 - 23 Aug 2014 - 19:31:21 - EbenMoglen
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