NetPolicy.com: Public Agenda for a Digital Worldby Leslie David Simon
Pub. Date: 10/28/2000
Publisher: Woodrow Wilson Center Press
In NetPolicy.Com, Leslie David Simon offers a panoramic view of the Internet's cyclonic effects on national and global institutions, ranging from government and finance to health care, education and industry. To cope with this digital revolution, the author provides a comprehensive prescription for crucial public policy needs. Beginning with the worldwide/i>
In NetPolicy.Com, Leslie David Simon offers a panoramic view of the Internet's cyclonic effects on national and global institutions, ranging from government and finance to health care, education and industry. To cope with this digital revolution, the author provides a comprehensive prescription for crucial public policy needs. Beginning with the worldwide struggle between government control and private sector leadership of the Net, he looks at the basic properties of the Net: its disregard of national boundaries; its virtual nature; and its impacts on the global economy, democracy, money, power, ecology, and culture. The book asks how we can encourage the healthy growth of the Net and avoid its darker side effects. Examining the current approaches of numerous governments and international organizations, NetPolicy.Com covers such critical issues as privacy, free expression, access, international trade, security, taxation, telecommunications regulation, legal frameworks, and government research.
NetPolicy.Com takes a non-ideological view, examining each issue on its own merits, sometimes accepting government involvement, as with advanced research, and sometimes favoring private sector control, as in the book's call for an end to telecommunications regulation or its opposition to government censorship. Above all, the book asserts that the unique American embrace of free expression, open markets, and private initiative will keep the U.S. in the vanguard of cyberspace, provided the private sector acts responsibly. Closed, non-democratic societies, the author asserts, will fall ever further behind, economically, politically, and culturally.
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A guided tour of cyberspace, traveling through the ever-expanding universe known as the Net. Over twenty-five years of age, this remarkable invention entered the public's consciousness only recently. Yet today it affects every aspect of human life. Simon describes its various impacts and discusses critical issues of public, and private, policy. I enjoyed the thoroughgoing history of the development of the Internet (Simon was there), little of which had previously been assembled in one place and certainly not interpreted so well. Beyond the exciting story of technological advance is a thought- provoking essay that raises troublesome questions as to whether the Federal government and the private sector, taken together, have the collective will (and wit) to encourage and maximize the use of this extraordinary tool for purposes that benefit the public good. The lack of boldness on both sides has left us with problems that seem intractable, problems having to do, for example, with intellectual property issues, privacy, and information security, to name only a few. This in turn raises the question as to how well we as a people will address the next mega-phenomenon, the already unfolding revolution in the biosciences. What can we learn from our response, to date, to the Net? I highly recommmend NetPolicy.Com to any serious reader of contemporary history, to any scholar of technology or dabbler in cyberspace, and to all citizens who are concerned with the role of government in this age when each of us is interconnected to everyone else, hence vulnerable to unknown threats from anonymous sources. Finally, NetPolicy.Com is a page turner. You won't lay it down very frequently.