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Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0
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on February 14, 2015
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Easy read. Interesting
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on July 14, 2014
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Good refferance book for people that are technical and work on the internet.
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on February 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Code 2.0 is a second edition of Lessigs earlier work sharing the same title. Lessig tells us in the introduction that the argument from the first book remains but this attempt of a second addition was to use a different method to convey his original argument. That argument is that the net is not a space of impossibilities of regulation, and that with current methods arising we can in fact make the net more regulated. Lessig specifies that the distinction must be made between concepts of perfectly regulated and better regulated; Lessig argues the latter. This essay will use specific examples from the text to demonstrate Lessigs argument. First I will use the dots life example to illustrate how the code could be constructed to regulate the net. Then I will examine whether or not Lessig believes these changes to be plausible in the coming future.
Lessig goes through many ways to tell us what code is and how it can lead to better regulation of the net and cyberspaces. One of the most informative and illustrated examples comes in chapter seven of his book titled, What Things Regulate. In this chapter Lessig points to the example of the dot’s life to demonstrate how the architecture, or code as he calls it, can lead to better regulation. The dot’s life example deals with four areas of influence that will lead to better regulation, these are, market, architecture, law, and norms. Lessig uses the example of smoking to show how these would be applied and could be equally applied to regulation of code. Norms can regulate smoking. You wouldn’t just light a cigarette in a friends are because that goes against norms, you would ask first. The market regulates because you can change the price of cigarettes, this would regulate your ability to smoke. Laws tell you specifically where you can and cannot smoke. Architecture can determine the method of smoking if one chooses to smoke conventional cigarettes the smell and smoke will limit their ability to smoke, but a smokeless version gives them more options. Lessig asserts that the same four-pronged approach can be taken when thinking about regulating the net. Norms, laws, market, and architecture could be natural ways to make cyberspaces: “The code or software or architecture or protocols set these features, which are selected by code writers” (Lessig, 7). These four aspects directly relate to code and Lessig’s stance that through the use of code we can create a better regulated net.
After looking at possible solutions to a previously conceived non-regulated Internet, the question to consider is, does Lessig believe these methods of regulation are plausible? The answer is that he does not believe these modes of regulation are going to happen. In his words, Lessig says, “we have so completely passed off questions of principal to the judicial branch, and so completely corrupted our legislative process with the backhand of handouts, that we confront this moment of extraordinary importance incapable of making any useful decisions” (Lessig, 16). There are three areas of problems that limit our ability to better regulate the Internet: problems with courts; legislative problems; and code itself. Courts, according to Lessig, are fundamentally weak in contrast with the state. “It will take a revolution in American constitutional law for the Court, self consciously at least, to move beyond the limits of state action.”(Lessig 16) This represents the first flaw hindering the application of regulation for the Internet. The legislative critique is not unlike Lessig’s court argument. Congress lacks the ability to truly enact a forceful movement to better regulation. Due to problems like fund-raising and pressures for economic outlets found in chapter 16 Lessig’s second critique is in the realm of congress. Finally there is code itself. Lessigs problem with code itself is the question of who the lawmakers are. While you can argue that code can regulate, then you must ask, by whom? Because we have no good understanding of who would be the policy makers code in and of itself is no more a regulator than the design of an airplane. (Lessig, 16) This represents the fundamental issue with code itself.
The Internet is no longer considered an area of no regulation. There exists venues that could be used to help better regulate cyberspace so that it would be safer and more easily monitored. Uses the example of the dot’s life we saw that the architecture, or code, itself can be a strong force for regulation. Norms, architecture, laws, and market are all influences that can naturally help regulate the Internet like smoking is regulated in the United States today. However, according to Lessig these are unlikely fixes to the problem of regulation for the net. Because our courts, legislative system, and code itself all have fundamental issues that require serious intervention, without which we cannot hope to achieve a better regulated Internet. This is the argument found in Lessig’s Code 2.0.
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on February 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Code 2.0

The book Code 2.0, by Lawrence Lessig, arguments are made regarding the believed contrast between internet and “real life” lives and about how the internet itself is turning into a platform for change in the future. The book’s name, which is Code 2.0, also attempts to explain what code actually is. Lessig goes on to give the word code different definitions as it applies to different things in different parts of the virtual world. In one aspect, code is detailed instructions that are programmed into the software that is being used. (Lessig 326). The definition that he uses most to support his claim builds off of the previous definition and says that code is the regulator of the internet. By design it dictates what can and can’t be done within certain software. These limits in the virtual world may be different than the ones placed on us in reality, but as more people are turning to the internet to build lives and interact, societal factors may soon follow it online as well.
One of Lessig’s main arguments in this book is that is us, as internet users, don’t fully understand the internet and as a result, use it in a manner that can prove to be destructive in the future . Our usage can be sometimes solely focused on out needs and we don’t see how this method is changing the way we think and the way we see the internet. In addition to this, we use the Internet in a care free like manner without giving much thought to what we may actually be doing. Our lack of consciousness regarding the Internet could shift the way of individuals controlling the Internet to the Internet controlling us. Just like many other sources of power, if we don’t recognize how the Internet is changing, then Internet giants such as Google or Comcast

will have all the power. With these giants in power, Lessig explains that the decisions that they make regarding the internet will mainly be for economic gain and our needs and wants as consumer may not always be met.
In the book, Lessig focuses on 4 constraints that are implemented in the regulation process which are Law, Market, Norms , and Architecture. In some ways these constraints are easier to see in the real world as opposed to online until you really look into the way that they each play a role. Law, which is the easiest to see, regulates our life by having a set of rules we need to follow and having consequences when these rules are broken. Market is also easy to see as it regulates the prices of the items we want to buy in an effort to control what we buy and in what quantities. Thirdly is norms, which may be harder to see are based on the community you live as your environment directly effects the norms constrains. Norms regulates more on a personal level, as these aren’t concrete laws yet are sometimes unspoken and reflect the social views of the members of a society. Breaking a norm in society doesn’t produce the same results as breaking a law does, but it can cause discomfort or even hostility within a group, which can deter people from going against the norms. Lastly is architecture, which is the overall blueprint of a community or region of a country. The architecture of a place regulates the interactions we can have and the actions that we can and cant take while still remaining in our community. Lessig reveals how these four constraints, which unknowingly to many people govern the way we live, perform the same actions on the Internet.
Online, these constraints are revealed in different ways but Lessig asserts that they still regulate the online world. While doing this, he uses an example of our seatbelt uses in real life to show how each constraint can be used in regulation. Law affects seatbelt uses by making it

illegal not to have one on while driving a car. This law doesn’t always guarantee that seatbelts will be worn but since there are consequences, people will put that into consideration. An indirect method of law can be in the form of market or even architecture. Online, this indirect regulation, can take form by not actually attacking the internet put the people using the internet. Laws that are targeted towards the people using the internet can help people start a trend that goes against what is popular in a society, can increase the price for internet, or change the way electronics is allowed to connect to the internet. All three of these are examples of law affecting the other 3 constraints of market, architecture, and norms.
Lessig, who sheds light on not only the blueprint of the internet in his book but also how our actions can affect it, wants his audience to understand that even with all these things we were unaware; we still have time to fix it. The internet, just like many other sources of mass interaction, can be abused if given to people who can use it to their personal gain. Lessig supports that the internet is not as hard to regulate as it is thought to be. As the internet advances, the users should also advance with it.
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on February 21, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Code 2.0 Summary
The Internet is a medium through which the individual is provided with both extreme freedom and complete control. As Lessig suggests in Code 2.0, this dichotomy presents a delicate balance towards the abilities and uses of the hardware and software of the digital age. By comparing the inner workings of the regulation of cyberspace to the Constitution, Lessig establishes a dialogue that addresses the idea that a new form of regulation is to be created in order to maintain control over cyberspace. He defines code as the basic governing structure upon which the Internet is founded and ascertains that “code is a regulator in cyberspace because it defines the terms upon which cyberspace is offered” (6). Lessig uses this definition throughout his argument to support the idea that, in its ability to do and create anything within the virtual space, it is able to establish complete control over the Internet. He presents the potential for the regulation of this code and, furthermore, the regulation of cyberspace as a whole. Through stories and examples of this paradox in action, he shows the many ways in which code can be used to control situations that initially break the possibilities in the real world. He poses the question, “We will see that cyberspace does not guarantee its own freedom but instead carries an extraordinary potential for control. And then we will ask: How should we respond?” (5). He establishes that cyberspace can be regulated through four underlying factors: architecture, norms, law, and market. These broad categories encompass that framework that Lessig suggests is the infrastructure that allows the possibility of bring order and regulation to a tool that can make virtually anything possible.
The Internet is a world that defies that nature and limitations of the real world through the ability to code and create a system that, at least in cyberspace, can allow anything to be possible. In his story about “Second Life”, Lessig describes a program in which people can establish and embody an alternate identity (6). Through coding their profile, the program allows them to do whatever it is they wish to do, which is not limited to things that are impossible to accomplish in the real world. Second Life is the perfect example of how cyberspace can be perfectly controlled in its perfect freedom. By establishing the code, the creator is constructing a virtual space that has endless possibilities, but the code itself is an establishment of law and management towards this supposedly limitless system.
The four factors of regulation that he describes, architecture, norms, law and market, are one of the strongest points to his argument (7). He clearly establishes the techniques and constraints by which this boundless world can be managed and behavior can be regulated. Architecture describes the physical and tangible structure that allows or does not allow things to be possible. If an object is not physical available or able to do something, than the architecture directs that it cannot be done. Norms are the expectations that are established through the majority’s adherence to them in order to coerce a particular action or behavior. Law addresses the set of rules that governs the situation and the consequences that occur if they are broken. There are certain laws in place; such as being allowed to smoke in a particular area and those laws are enforced by punishment if they are not followed. Market is the persuasion to behave in a particular manner through offers that make it more appealing to take one action over another. Lowering the price of an item or making a deal is persuading the buyer into purchasing what the store wants them to purchase, thus regulating their decision. Each of these modes of regulation has their strengths and weaknesses depending on the situation, but their universality is what makes them especially useful in the context of regulating cyberspace.
Lessig establishes a strong idea that the modern virtual world has opened up many seemingly impossible situations that, without proper regulation, can go awry. While it is difficult to imagine keeping such a powerful and virtually limitless source under control, Lessig discusses the idea that it is indeed possible. There is a consistent parallel to the real world within his argument of regulation that suggests that the methods can be adapted to the needs of the virtual world. Where laws of crime and punishment are established in real life, the government can step in a create those for the Internet and where architecture is concerned, what is physically impossible in the real world can similarly be restricted through code. As the title suggests, his pervasive point of his argument is that code is the key to the regulation of cyberspace with the fact that it is the foundation that controls it. The individuals who know how to create code have free range to essentially control cyberspace. Lessig implies in many different ways that, in order to regulate that virtual world, these individuals need to be regulated and prevented from running rampant with the power to control cyberspace. With the continuous juxtaposition of the approaches that need to be taken to regulate the physical world and virtual world, Lessig brings forth the idea that cyberspace is an extension of the real world that can be regulated under the same concepts. He states that “The problems with that cyberspace reveals are not problems with cyberspace. They are real-space problems that cyberspace shows us we must now resolve-or maybe reconsider” (16). In this revelation, he suggests that cyberspace creates infinite possibilities for those who participate in it and it in itself is not the center of potential problems. Rather it is who controls and regulates it and how that is accomplished that poses the real threat to society. The real world systems that have been established set the example for the regulation of this world of infinite possibilities. Though it was a bit scattered, I enjoyed his argument and the relevant insight that Lessig provides regarding the rapidly increasing presence of "cyberspace".
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on February 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Code 2.0 is a new and improved version that Lawrence Lessig uses to describe how managing copyright for the digital age will have an impact on our lives in the future. This novel presents a re-look at some fundamental ideas. We must learn and grow to the ever-changing world around us. Lessig argues that the framework existing now regarding code and law must be adjusted and rewritten to fit the new societies that are being developed.
There is a bit of information about specific, technical computer language that allows computer savvy people to grasp what Lessig is arguing. However he uses anecdotes within the text to assist the readers who are not as technologically friendly. The first anecdote he uses is an argument between two people where one’s poisonous flower pedals kills the other’s dog. Looking at the argument from two sides really helps teach how the logic in code is written. “‘There is no reason to grow deadly flowers,’ dank yelled across the fence. ‘There’s no reason to get so upset about a few dead dogs.’” (Lessig Ch. 1). The way code can be scripted really shows how powerful the Internet can be. It depends on what one is trying to accomplish in order for the code to be written properly. Certain norms are created within cyberspace due to people seeing the same idea over and over again within this space. He mentions this with the first anecdote because some people will break the norms and create controversy among society. The code within cyberspace is written to protect values that people believe are fundamental.
Lessig discusses code and law interchangeably. The codes that are written by humans must follow certain laws to help protect our privacy and peace among us. Code is based off architecture. There is structure to code because of the algorithms that are written and used to perform certain tasks or abilities. Yet there are limitations to code. One has to properly place decimals in specific order so that the code performs its function.
Lessig talks about how cyberspace is a major part of the development of the Internet. People can “hang out” in cyberspace and can live “second lives” within this cyberspace. The behavior within cyberspace is based on certain laws and markets that attract people to come to cyberspace. People can choose to obey the laws within cyberspace, but if they break them they run the risk of being tracked down by the Government and being arrested for breaking the laws. The architected online community can attract people from all over the world. It can create problems because some people are better at understanding how the Internet works and they can control someone else’s computer if they hacked into it. This anonymous playground creates such high risks to our privacy and protection that there has to be regulation within cyberspace. There is an overseer who makes sure the online communities are running smoothly and someone is not harassing another person on the online community. Lessig preaches that regulation is needed within code. This helps protect our privacy and keeps society safe. Lessig also brings up the fact that we must teach our younger generations to write code and learn about the Internet because it will help us advance our future. We can become more powerful if we know how to advance our computer systems and Internet as a whole.
Our freedom is adjustable and valuable enough that we must advance to keep it like that way for the clear. We must use and guard digital information to advance in our current times and set up for future generations. In order for this to happen we must understand law and how it relates to code writing for our internet to become more advance.
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on February 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
The Internet and code have been in existence for my entire life. It has always been a popular belief that due to the nature of the cyberspace and the web, it cannot be subject to regulation. The more society uses cyberspace, the more people realize that regulation in this realm is very possible. Lawrence Lessig argues in Code 2.0 that by changing the original code and architecture of cyberspace, we could change the nature of cyberspace to become extremely regulated or keep the freedom it has now.
Lessig writes a lot about the differences between code, law, and architecture in cyberspace. In our every day lives, the law can be the force that persuades us from doing anything negative or harmful. Law doesn’t prevent an individual from doing something but if he or she breaks the law, then he or she gets punished. Members of society may get upset with certain laws that are in place, but they are mostly there to benefit us. In cyberspace, the law of the land is carried out through code. Code regulates how cyberspace is used through the software and hardware that make up cyberspace. (Page 21 – digital copy) There are physical restraints and limitations in code. There is also architecture, which can be viewed as a part of code. The architecture of cyberspace is similar to law, but users don’t get upset with it because they simply don’t realize that anything is being done. An example of an architecture aspect of cyberspace would be if a social media site were completely blocked from your web browser. You couldn’t access the site at all because of the framework.
Lessig provides a solid example of architecture in chapter five when he talks about the telephone network changing from a circuit-switched network to a packet-switched network. He then explains how this change has made it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to execute wiretaps. When the government realized this, they quickly regulated it by enacting the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA). (Page 84 – digital copy) This act ensured that the government could still use electronic surveillance. This is an example of regulation within the telephone network.
There are four main control methods that Lessig touches on: architecture, law, norms, and the market. Architecture can be used to block certain sites so the general public cannot access them. For example, China blocks a lot of American social media sites and have their own version for their citizens. Law can be used to dissuade people from certain behavior on the Internet and an example of that could be child pornography. An individual may get away with it for a little while but if they get caught, they will face serious consequences. Norms can be used as a control method by providing some sort of incentive, monetary or not, to behave in a specific manner. Lastly, the market can decide how cyberspace is used. As mentioned above, the Chinese market prevents some access to popular web sites in the United States.
Lessig further develops his argument that the regulation of cyberspace is possible by touching on the ideas of intellectual property, privacy, and free speech. He comes up with three possible resolutions: the No Law Rule, the One Law Rule, and the Many Laws Rule. The No Law Rule represents the “dream of the early Internet.” (Page 344 – digital copy) while the second law represents the reality for a lot of countries and the third is what we may become. While Lessig can often be repetitive throughout Code 2.0, it is still worth the read for anyone interested in this subject matter. He is very knowledgeable and reading this will give you a better understanding of where we came from, where we are, and where we can go moving forward.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Code 2.0 is a book about the changing meaning of regulation between real space and cyberspace. More specifically, it covers the shift of control over individuals and their actions from architectures of anarchy to architectures of control. Over the course of the book, we see code change, resulting in the conflict between competing sovereigns and the emergence of different communities that embrace varying levels of regulation. However, often philosophies contrast greatly, and soon we may face conflicts as a result of latent ambiguities in pre-cyberspace laws. Lessig also focuses on four types of control: architecture, markets, norms, and law. As these themes develop, Lessig supports his arguments using examples where controversy and ambiguity complicate any simple answer to these questions. The investigation of code and it’s effect on the regulation of people in Code 2.0 provides an in-depth argument on the resulting shift in regulability which explores many of the issues that consumers, companies, and governments may not yet fully grasp.
Code is divided into four themes: regulability and how it works, regulation by code, latent ambiguity, and competing sovereigns (26). In Lessig’s words, “This book is about the change from a cyberspace of anarchy to a cyberspace of control” (5). Part I delves into this, prompting investigation into the differences between anarchy and control in cyberspace, as well as what causes a shift between the two. This relies on an understanding of regulability. Lessig defines regulability as “the capacity of a government to regulate behavior,” and in the scope of his book, such capacity in relation to its citizens in cyberspace (24). Lessig provides examples of both anarchy and control in this context. In one story he details a place where online gambling has been illegalized, but a citizen created a website in a nearby region outside of its jurisdiction. This server was unregulable, and thus created a local cyberspace of anarchy outside of governmental control (16). He details a cyberspace of control in Second Life. Players are allowed to rewrite the code and thus rewrite the world, giving a massive amount of regulability and thus control to the space that is unheard of in real life (11).
Regulation by code differs from regulation by law or other sources, as is explained in Part II (5). Lessig asserts that “cyberspace demands a new understanding of how regulation works” (5). But what makes cyberspace different from other spaces? To understand this question, we need to look at what methods of control are available. Lessig describes four such methods of control: architecture, markets, norms, and law (130). Architecture is the physical constraint of a system that affects our actions. Code is an example of this: we must obey how something is programmed; otherwise, it simply will not work. Markets represent the costs and benefits associated with actions. Simply put, people prefer technology and behaviors that require less effort for their rewards. Norms are the social customs in various spaces. People can be affected by different norms in real life and in cyberspace, as well as by visiting different sites in cyberspace. These norms can be affected greatly by the other forms of control, as they force certain behaviors. The final method of control that Lessig describes is law. Government can take an active role to regulate cyberspace activity, or to gather information on people in order to enforce existing laws. As Lessig describes in other chapters, legal intervention becomes complicated by limitations of architecture and location.
These changes in control lead to latent ambiguity in law. A pre-Internet society would not have been prepared for many of the consequences of code on behavior and regulation. As a result, these laws may not be able to be applied in a fair or relevant manner. Lessig provides the example of searches in relation to the Fourth Amendment. Since searches can be done without inconveniencing the searched and can be programmed to find only information that would be desired without providing information on the innocent, rules against search and seizure start to lose meaning (22). While one’s property may be searched using a computer worm, it is entirely possible that this causes no negative effects on those infected. With this in mind, Lessig questions the validity of previous interpretations of such laws.
Complicating the matter further are the parallel lives one can life in cyberspace. Lessig refers to this phenomenon as competing sovereigns, where the life one lives in their community and as a citizen of the internet differ. Even further, these lives can expressed on servers outside of the jurisdiction of the real world sovereign under which one lives. He talks about a young man named Jake who avoids the norms of his home town to publish hardcore non-consensual erotica online, which would be unacceptable and possible even illegal in real space (17). Jake was living two lives under separate norms that rarely interacted.
Lessig completes his book with Part V on the different choices that are private, collective, and governmental. He states that “the central lesson of this book is that cyberspace requires choices” (26). Architecture often determines who gets to make this choice.
Code details the differences in regulability between real space and cyberspace, and attempts to explain why this is significant. Some code is more regulable than others, and different code leads to different degrees of control. Lessig’s arguments point to a central idea: code is the architecture which controls all else in cyberspace.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
Throughout Code 2.0 Lessing attempt’s to explain how the real world uses the architecture of code (a set of instructions that programs the computer that allows the user to perform certain tasks) to regulate the realm of cyberspace. Through regulability, regulation of code, latent ambiguity, and competing sovereigns Lessing was able to describe how code has been influenced, and why cyberspace has evolved “from a cyberspace of anarchy to a cyberspace of control” (1). The stories Lessing uses are helpful tools that are laid out throughout his book that help support the issues his four themes raise.
​Lessing begins his book with a story about the birth of a new society, the internet. He explains that this society was nothing the people had ever experienced. The cyberspace was another realm where people could get away from the real world, and become whoever they please. The internet at first was another world that people could enter, with no rules or regulations; the government was perceived to have no control. However, as Lessing explains this version of cyberspace quietly evolved into a place that is presently indirectly regulated by the laws of the real world’s government, through the architecture of the internet’s code. Code as Lessing explains is ultimately what controls this cyberspace, because the architecture can be easily changed.
In the first part of Lessing’s book he introduces the theme regulability (how a society regulates certain behaviors and actions), and that for there to be good regulability one must know, who someone is, where they are, and what they are doing. However, because of the way cyberspace is designed it is hard to keep track of these three rules. According to Lessing most people believe the internet “can’t” be regulated, which is incorrect. It is perceived this way because of the way cyberspace is coded, there are certain codes that people can use to influence what goes on in cyberspace, and for example parents use iProtectYou to prevent their children from watching porn. In one of Lessing’s stories he compares two different colleges, and the different ways they regulate what their students do on their network. The University of Chicago doesn’t follow the rules of regulability, by not regulating who uses there internet. They value having anonymous users, and the freedom that it entails. Harvard University on the other hand follows the rules of regulabilty. They use IP addresses to know who is using their system, where they are, and what they are doing. This is because their architecture of code is having control over all of the activities that takes place on their network. Thus, Harvard wishes to eliminate the values of freedom the University of Chicago has.
The next theme brought up is the regulations by code. Lessing explains in this section that the government goal is to take steps that induce the development of architecture, which would enable behavior to be more regulable. In other words, the government wants to be able to see what people are doing on the internet by using hacking codes like Clipper Chips and CALEA. However, using devices like this would play against the constitutions protections. Therefore instead of using these devices the government tried to encourage people to use encryption technologies that would “leave the back door open” (5) so they could have a reason to go in and decrypt conversations. Yet, the government is not the only society that regulate by code, certain website societies such as AOL, CC, MUD, MOO, and MMOG all have their own codes that regulate what there users can, and cannot do. However, these websites also regulate what behavior takes place by creating social norms, which are supported by the government. The government uses websites like these to implement law through the markets, and social norms, which in total affects the architecture of the society’s code.
The third theme, latent ambiguity (something that is understandable and logical but has underlying meaning) Lessing talks about his own opinion and the choices he would make as he analyzes intellectual property, privacy, and free speech. He analyzes intellectual property, one example being copyright, and how it can be protected by the law. Lessing suggests though that there are “different ways that law might protect property” (10) but copyright is one of the most valuable types of property because even with the codes it is hard to protect. Lessing then goes on to analyzes privacy and is able to conclude that he favors code over no code because code “enables individual choice”(13) allowing people to choose what others can find out about them. However when it comes to freedom of speech he believes that there should be no code because it restricts people from speaking there mind. He explains that there is always competition between people’s public and private life, and that there need to be a balanced code that works with people’s interests and needs.
The final theme he makes is competing sovereigns and how the conflicts between the different sovereigns will affect the architecture of codes and cyberspace. The problem that this theme entails is the idea of sovereign power, which if not built correctly will not consist of good regulation. In order to have sovereignty one has to understand what the world of cyberspace consists of which is “transactions, relationships, and thought” (16). By not understanding the layers or architecture of cyberspace it will not be easy to create a code that will make the activity that goes on easy to regulate.
Lessing finally ends his book with a common usage of the word “choices”. He believes that there are choices to be made, when it comes to how cyberspace will evolve, but that we are not able to choose how it evolves due to real world limitations. He argues that our society should break away from the court system. That people need to be the ones who construct the architecture of code, and push aside their fear of the repercussions. Yet, in his final chapter he comes to the realization that people cannot construct a sufficient architecture of code to regulate the realm of cyberspace because “we are nature” and therefore are not truly apart of the cyberspace world (18).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Code 2.0 by Lessig takes on the difficult task of defining code. Code is a regulator. It acts as a form of architecture that regulates behavior in cyberspace. In some instances code is law. It acts as the lawmaker in cyberspace. However, it is the software and hardware behind code that allows it to act as a lawmaker. He addresses a common misconception today that cyberspace is free of control. However, he not only proves that real world code translates to cyberspace, but also discusses the outside forces that regulate code. He begins by discussing the four constraints of real world regulation.
The four constraints of real world regulation are architecture, law, market, and norms. For example, if the government wants the people to wear seatbelts it can pass a law directly or “fund public education campaigns to create a stigma against those who do not wear seatbelts” (Ch. 7). It can also subsidize insurance companies or insert automatic seatbelts. These constraints regulate the real world code but as stated before cyberspace is not free from control. We will come to see throughout Lessig’s book that the government, code programs, and citizens all have an important role in regulating code in cyberspace.
Lessig discusses the government’s role of regulation of code and commerce in cyberspace. “The government wants to regulate, but which it cannot (easily) regulate directly. The government thus regulates indirectly by directly regulating technologies that affect behavior” (Ch. 5). Lessig starts by talking about how the government can work through intermediaries to enforce people to use digital IDs. For example, the government could impose an Internet sales tax on people that do not use proper identification to buy goods. In addition to regulating code, the government can also regulate commerce. Lessig discusses the strict enforcement by the Chinese government of porn on the Internet. He states that Google and the Chinese government could work hand in hand to benefit themselves. Google would block certain sites from users in exchange for being the China’s market. These are two examples of how the government regulates cyberspace.
Lessig’s next point addresses regulation by code. The architecture, the hardware and software of programs, acts as a regulator. He begins by talking about cyber-places. AOL’s constitution places restrictions on people dictated by its code. For example, “only twenty-three people can be in a chat room at once is a choice of the code engineers” (Ch.6). In addition, AOL’s code can collect information and trace people’s activities. Another example of regulation by code is the game Second Life. Second Life is a website that lets its users create their own virtual world. However, code regulates people “trespassing” on each other’s property in this virtual world. Code regulates cyber-places.
In addition to government and code regulation, citizens have a role in controlling cyberspace. Lessig discusses how issues of copyright, privacy, and speech each confront us with a choice. In the case of privacy in cyberspace, Lessig suggests a privacy property right. “The protection of privacy would be stronger if people conceived of the right as a property right. People need to take ownership of this right, and protect it…” (Ch.11). Lessig also focuses on the crucial debate of how to regulate copyright. He talks of the choice to either regulate professional or amateur culture or to allow perfect control over intellectual property or architecture with certain aspects of public or private use (Ch.10). In addition to the difficult choice of copyright, the issue of porn in terms of free speech presses a latent ambiguity. Lessig argues that we have a choice to block it ourselves or allow a law or new form of architecture to regulate porn. However, just as in the case of intellectual property, Lessig believes some of our control over speech should be forgiven for the regulation of porn.
Lessig concludes his book by providing solutions for regulation. He ends with stating that open code should be the primary source of regulation. Open code is more transparent and would prevent the government from complete control. Lastly, he concludes with saying that it is a difficult time of choice. That we can choose to act on what we see or “pretend that there is nothing we can do” (Ch. 18). It is time in this era of technological revolution to prepare and to act. It is a time to stop ignoring that cyberspace is free of control and start opening our eyes.
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