September 26, 2003

First Law of the Internet

Several times over the last few years I have referred to a formulation that I call "The First Law of the Internet".

I believe that this First Law represents the proper balance between public and private effects of internet activity.  This First Law is in need of significant refinement, but is there anyone out there who believes that this First Law does not point the proper direction?  If so, I encourage the articulation of that view.

Given the recent private acts on the net by Verisign, acts that have a broad public impact, I believe that it is worthwhile to visit the most basic questions regarding what the internet is and how we accommodate competing and conflicting uses.

The First Law of the Internet

Every person shall be free to use the Internet in any way that is privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental.

  • The burden of demonstrating public detriment shall be on those who wish to prevent the private use.

    • Such a demonstration shall require clear and convincing evidence of public detriment.

  • The public detriment must be of such degree and extent as to justify the suppression of the private activity.

    Posted by karl at September 26, 2003 11:53 PM