...And Things are Likely to Get Worse

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-10-06

The Federal Government is certain to attempt ill-informed, ineffective legislative solutions to the problems of unsolicited e-mail and messages, responding to pressure to reconcile the burgeoning chaos of separate and inconsistent state laws. So warned a Stanford Law School professor, Lawrence Lessig, author of "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace," in keynote remarks at last months Openwave Messaging Anti-Abuse Conference in Santa Barbara, Calif.

"We should be embarrassed," Lessig continued, "by how extraordinarily poorly our legal system works for everyone but the 3 percent who can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to resolve their disputes."

Lessig urged his audience of messaging system operators and technology providers to inform the debate with the perspective of those who understand the interaction between the regulation attempted by law and the regulation imposed by technology.

"Until politicians are embarrassed by the fact that they dont understand how the architecture of the Internet works, until theyre embarrassed by the fact that their policy-making has no inclusion of the role that technical standards have in inducing innovation … well have policy-making by the oblivious," he warned. "Oblivious policy-making is having one consequence—its breaking the Internet. The Internet is collapsing, not because government is regulating badly but because government doesnt understand how its regulating it.

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