Welcome to the wild world of Internet law! This course is for people who are curious about the role of the Internet in stimulating legal change—and the role of the law in shaping the Internet. Maybe you’ve read about the right to be forgotten, wondered about the legal implications of content moderation, or worry about the technology companies tracking your location. Perhaps you’re thinking about how social media shapes our elections, or are curious why the Electronic Communications Privacy Act hasn’t been seriously updated since 1986. This course will push you to think about how law shapes the Internet and how the Internet in turn shapes law and policy.
This course will survey a broad range of legal subfields. Among other topics, the course will cover domestic and international jurisdiction; free speech; privacy; anonymity; and intellectual property. In the process, we will consider the role of governments, the private sector, and civil society in stimulating and implementing legal and policy changes. The rules set by these actors are complex, overlapping, and sometimes in conflict with one another. This course will examine these complexities in depth and consider how to formulate successful legal strategies in a context of rapid technological change.
We will focus particular attention on three major themes of particular relevance today: speech, privacy, and power. The course has a particular focus on themes of corporate, governmental, and technological control of the Internet, and the effects on equality, free expression and user privacy. Course readings will highlight these themes and place legal developments in a broader theoretical context.