Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hard Mode 2: Code is King

Okay, which "Code" are we talking about here?

Used trusty old Google Image Search again to spice up another dull and geeky blog entry, and entering "code" gave me stuff under the four general categories as represented above.

But for Lawrence Lessig, in his books "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace," and "Code v.2.0," he only talks about Code as "law" and Code as "computer program."

So, back to the first question. Under the context of effective Internet regulation, which Code is King?

Lessig posits the idea that regulating the "program" Code can be more effective in dealing with the various ills connected with using the Internet. We know them and we love them: cybercrime, privacy, and crossing the jurisdictions (sorry but I can't resist using a Ghostbusters pun).

It's plausible. After all, he says, the Internet is not only made up of telephone cables and international gateway facilities (the current subject of Philippine ICT regulation, more of "C" than "I"), but also of software protocols such as IPv4 and 6, HTML and CSS/XML, FTP and BitTorrent.

He argues that by controlling how programmers (coders) make these protocols work, we can prevent a lot of bad things happening to the Internet in the first place. If a protocol requires that a user must have authentic identification before accessing the network, then we've made future cybercrime investigations a lot easier.

Privacy implications aside, Lessig has his point. But what about us legal practitioners? Are we, the guardians of the "legal" Code, merely bystanders in the development of Internet regulation?

Lessig, as a legal scholar himself, still doesn't think so.

How and why? That's another blog entry. Stay tuned for Hard Mode 3, if it comes.

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