At A Glance
Highlighting the continuing importance and utility of clearly defined property and contract rights in the digital sphere.
The core requirements for a well-functioning market are the same, whether on or off the Internet: clear property rights, clear contract rights, competition, and an absence of government interference. These simple but powerful ideas are rarely reflected in federal Internet-policy debates, however. Instead, federal agencies generally proceed from an assumption of “Internet exceptionalism”: a view of the Internet in which property rights, contract rights, and competition are unimportant; ordinary principles of economics do not apply; and government has a responsibility to regulate with unusual intensity—and without constraint.
The Internet plays an increasingly central role in American daily life. And the policy challenges it presents us are broad and varied: demands for ever faster broadband service; disincentives and impediments to Internet infrastructure investments; heightened concerns about privacy and the security of personal information; threats to the integrity of commercial transactions on the Internet; and regular controversies over the proper scope and depth of intellectual property rights protections.