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Who Controls the Internet?


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Jack Goldsmith is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author most recently of The Limits of International Law. He was formerly Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice, and special counsel to the General Counsel of the Department of Defense. Tim Wu is Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and previously worked in the Internet telecommunications industry in Silicon Valley.


Here is an eye-opening history of the Internet describing how cyberspace, which we think of as a borderless community, is in fact nothing of the sort. Goldman (Harvard Law Sch.; The Limits of International Law) and Wu (Columbia Law Sch.) show how different nation-states and international organizations have shaped a local Internet experience based on their own prevailing societal values. Multinational corporations trying to sell online, such as Yahoo!, Ebay, and Dow Jones, have discovered quickly and painfully that they must abide by local standards. Otherwise, their online operations will be halted by governments and competitors using a variety of often far-reaching legal maneuvers and/or high-level technology filters. China, for instance, has a countrywide firewall, and many countries and regions employ geo-ID technologies that not only enable Internet companies to personalize content for local users but also assist in targeting and blocking unwanted content emanating from specific geographic areas. Perhaps the Internet will not connect the world as quickly as Thomas L. Friedman proposes in The World Is Flat. As controversial as Friedman's, this thought-provoking work is recommended for international law and e-commerce collections in colleges as well as public libraries.-Caroline Geck, Kean Univ., Union, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

A timely look at the ways that governments make themselves felt in cyberspace. Goldsmith and Wu cover a range of controversies, from domain-name disputes to online poker and porn to political censorship. Their judgments are well worth attending. David Robinson, Wall Street Journal In the 1990s the Internet was greeted as the New New Thing: It would erase national borders, give rise to communal societies that invented their own rules, undermine the power of governments. In this splendidly argued book, Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu explain why these early assumptions were mostly wrong: The Internet turns out to illustrate the enduring importance of Old Old Things, such as law and national power and business logic. By turns provocative and colorful, this is an essential read for anyone who cares about the relationship between technology and globalization. Sebastian Mallaby, Editorial Writer and Columnist, The Washington Post

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