Lessig on Architectures of Control

Lawrence Lessig on the need to build protections for privacy and autonomy into the internet’s architecture. From CODE 2.0, p45 (emphasis mine):

[The end-to-end principle] has been a core principle of the Internet’s architecture, and, in my view, one of the most important reasons that the Internet produced the innovation and growth that it has enjoyed. But its consequences for purposes of identification and authentication make both extremely difficult with the basic protocols of the Internet alone. It is as if you were in a carnival funhouse with the lights dimmed to darkness and voices coming from around you, but from people you do not know and from places you cannot identify. The system knows that there are entities out there interacting with it, but it knows nothing about who those entities are. While in real space —and here is the important point—anonymity has to be created, in cyberspace anonymity is the given.

This difference in the architectures of real space and cyberspace makes a big difference in the regulability of behavior in each. The absence of relatively self-authenticating facts in cyberspace makes it extremely difficult to regulate behavior there … We ’re far enough into this history to see that the trend toward this authentication is unstoppable. The only question is whether we will build into this system of authentication the kinds of protections for privacy and autonomy that are needed.

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