The regulated European Web

In a fascinating essay (titled “I’m So Bored with the USA” on his own site, but “Damn the Constitution: Europe must take back the Web” at The Register, Bill Thompson paints an attractive picture of how a regulated web could be a really good thing.

“The first [belief] is the idea that the Internet is somehow outside or above the real world and its national boundaries. If I phone someone in Nigeria and suggest a money-laundering fraud then it is obvious to all that I am breaking the law in two countries, not in ‘phonespace’. Nobody has ever suggested that the content of the telephone network -all those voice calls -should be somehow privileged and treated as outside the normal world.”

Once you legally establish that “cyberspace” is actually firmly rooted in the physical world, and can be mapped within conventional national boundaries, all sorts of things become possible. Not least of which is the application of European social democratic laws instead of American free-trade (so long as we control it) libertarianism.

(I’ve been reading Will Hutton’s book The Stakeholding Society lately, and his ideas fit nicely alongside Thompson’s thesis. I’ve never really read much politics or economic before, but this book is making me regret that gap in my knowledge. I’ll have to write more about this some other time…)