Alan Davidson visited Yale Law School today, speaking to my Internet Law class and to a large lunchtime group. Key takeaway for me:: the center of gravity of internet policy is not so much in Washington any more. Discussions of Issues like ISP filtering and data retention are taking place in Europe with enormous energy. There things we might take for granted here – like avoiding online content regulation, or the undesirability of using ISPs as private police – are actively considered.
At the same time, Alan points out, architectural constraints that we also used to take for granted, like “it’s too difficult to look at the packets that are crossing our networks,” or “we can’t know with any reliability where people are coming from who visit our sites” are melting away.
So it’s a time of tremendous upheaval in internet policy, and storm clouds are gathering over Europe (not to be too bombastic, but it does feel like that from here).
It was absolutely wonderful to have Alan here. We need more comparative internet/telecommunications experts – I’m hoping that some of these terrific students will take up that challenge.