[discuss] Possible approaches to solving "problem no. 1"

John Curran jcurran at istaff.org
Wed Feb 26 15:15:43 UTC 2014

On Feb 18, 2014, at 11:15 AM, JFC Morfin <jefsey at jefsey.com> wrote:

> All I know is that a global network for me is the capacity to access everywhere in the world, with my computer, with my way of using it, in my language, along my country's laws, under the protection of my government, etc.
> ...


Your "global network" described above which provides access "along your country's 
laws" and "under the protection of your government" is not going to happen, since 
the "everywhere in the world" that you wish to access is often with devices and 
systems in another countries, under _their_ laws and their government protection.  
In fact, it may not even be the intersection of these laws that is applicable, 
because on a practical basis, the scale of the Internet completely overwhelms the
classic assumptions regarding legal jurisdiction and venue.

The protections afforded to someone under their country's laws have historically 
been based on the assumption that interactions between parties occur predominantly 
locally, occasionally between parties of differing regions/counties/canons, and 
rarely between parties internationally.  Law enforcement personnel (local, regional,
national) and the systems of courts/judges are staffed on the same assumptions
of locality, with relatively little capacity for international disputes compared 
to local and in-country matters.

By contrast, the Internet enables interactions on a massive scale between parties 
globally, and if even a tiny fraction of such interactions result in disputes, 
the result is an outcome which of fundamentally different proportions that the 
current assumptions of locality and the jurisdiction of parties, and thus is 
enormously difficult to reconcile with the laws and protections formulated 
under such assumptions.

This is why there will not be any easy technological solution available (including 
your much vaunted virtual global networks), as even in the happy situation where
there is actual alignment between countries in underlying values and priorities, 
there is not any framework for transnational engagement in disputes on the scale 
which is enabled by the Internet.  One would think that the inability to provide 
for the protection of one's citizens on the Internet would result in prohibition 
of Internet use, but the enormous economic and social value of the Internet is 
an extremely powerful force that shall not be so easily tamed...

In the end, the best we can hope for is a "global network providing you the ability 
to access everywhere in the world, with your computer, with your way of using it, 
in your language, based on widely-accepted principles and norms with enforcement 
of the same principles and norms by your government and all other governments who 
wish to cooperate under similar conditions."

As much as we all may want something more, no amount of technological abstraction 
or virtualization will miraculously change the fact that our real world legal and
governance systems are optimized for handling disputes "locally" (rather the globally
as enabled by the Internet) and this certainly emphasizes the need to strengthen the 
current mechanisms for Internet cooperation, particularly with respect to governments.

Disclaimer:  My views alone.  Even this simple reply email involved computer systems 
             in at least three different countries; a hash of venues and laws readily 
             diced up and served via the Internet... 



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