Lessig, Lawrence. "Architecting for Control." 2000-05-29 http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/lessig/content/articles/works/camkey.pdf. Link Accessed: 2003-07-08.

Keywords: end-to-end, open access


Keynote given at the Internet Political Economy Forum Cambridge Review of International Cambridge, UK May 11, 2000

Lawrence Lessig examines the relationship between the Internet, power and society.

Governments use regulation and law to control behaviors. Norms also regulate behaviors but are enforced by a community, not a state. Markets regulate, through price and are enforced by a community but remedied through laws and norms. In cyberspace, the regulator is the Internets architecture. The Internet architecture are the components, the software and hardware that make the cyberspace what it is. Internet Architecture regulates behavior in cyberspace and that behavior is enforced through the physical power of a context or environment. Today it is these four modalities; architecture, law, norms and markets that determine how societies are regulated.

Internet architecture, laws, norms and markets interact with one another in such a way as to be able to enable or disable each other. The Internet represents a source of power with imbedded values, principles, and character that is determined by its design. For example, depending on its design, the Internet architecture can enable the power of social norms or not.

The original design principle for the Internet called for a competitively neutral network that simply processed packets of information without regard to its content. Known as the end-to-end argument, this principle guided network designers to put the intelligence at the ends; keep the network stupid, allow for smart applications. End-to-end is a principle and a value that was built into the original Internet architecture. Then end-to-end principle along with the advent of open systems and open software has created an environment that encourages innovation, fosters competition and provides liberty creating features.

Lessig warns that technologies are being layered onto the original architecture that will architect away the original design principles and values in a ways that will reduce liberty and incentives for innovation. Technologies such as cookies, digital certificates, zoning and the like will ultimately make it easier for governments to regulate and control.

The author points to commerce as the source of these changes. As broadband networks are being deployed, network owners are architecting strategically for commercial advantage. They are constructing networks in a way that gives the network owners the power to control access and content.

In the end, Lessig wants society to focus on how power structures changed as a result of the Internets open and neutral architecture, and what will happen to the character of that power as the result of commerce inspired changes.