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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World

(Oxford University Press), by Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu

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Goldsmith and Wu, law professors at Harvard and Columbia, were always skeptical of the cyber utopianism of the 1990s with its delusions of a worldwide web without laws or corporate ownership, a Freedonia of the imagination. In the new edition of their important analysis of order and the Internet, the authors can point out how they were mostly right. Not that they are happy over all developments. China is only the most prominent state to erect firewalls around access; many other governments impose their own restrictions. On the other hand, the increased diversity of languages and bandwidth have created borders within the web corresponding to local preferences. We share one world but shouldn't be forced to see it through an identical window.

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