Law in the Internet Society
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

No Exit

-- By CrystalMao - 06 Dec 2011

Why Exit Matters

The liberal values underlying free society and individual autonomy traditionally include a right for individuals to exit voluntary associations. As free society increasingly finds itself spending time online (hanging out on youtube before it discovers vimeo), this right should travel with it.

Even putting liberty interests aside, the steady crops of new web-based communities and services rely on fluid user adoption to select and mold the offerings that will become the internet of tomorrow. Reducing the transaction costs associated with this process means encouraging users’ freedom of migration, which relies on an underlying ability to exit accounts with existing internet communities/services. Allowing users to freely exit and adopt grants greater self-ownership over online data and activities, which ultimately better enables users to (1) make efficient choices about which communities/products to support, and (2) protect privacy interests online.

The freedom to exit internet communities can seem like a deceptive non-issue. After all, we’re all free to let facebook accounts lie dormant, stop updating blogs, silence our twitter thumbs. (Studies have found that at least 80% twitter accounts are inactive ). Many sites also provide mechanisms that users can use to inactivate or delete their accounts. From this perspective, freedom to exit seems perfectly intact.

However, as we have seen throughout this course, it is difficult to truly exit our digital pasts. Data, once online, is rarely forgotten, and ties that appear severed may quickly resurface at the beckoning of a court order or a 12-year old hacker’s fingertips. Exiting old accounts via neglect or inactivation is not truly exiting; it is moving on without closure, and tends to leave users with a trail of digital baggage that may be burdensome enough to discourage the moving-on in the first place.

This post formulates true freedom to exit online accounts as comprising of two main components: (1) the ability to freely import and export one’s data, and (2) the right to leave no trace (the NYT calls this “the right to be forgotten” ). Both are important in ensuring autonomy and meritocracy in our online experience, and should become customary norms in how online services operate.

Subsection A

Subsub 1

Subsection B

Subsub 1

Subsub 2

Right to Free Your Data

Subsection A

Subsection B

Right to Leave no Trace

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r2 - 12 Jan 2012 - 12:01:57 - CrystalMao
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