Networks, complexity and internet regulation scale-free law
This book, then, starts with a general statement: that regulators should try, wherever possible, to use the physical methodological tools presently available in order to draft better legislation. While such an assertion may be applied to the law in general, this work will concentrate on the much narrower area of Internet regulation and the science of complex networks The Internet is the subject of this book not only because it is my main area of research, but also because –without over-emphasising the importance of the Internet to everyday life– one cannot deny that the growth and popularisation of the global communications network has had a tremendous impact on the way in which we interact with one another. The Internet is, however, just one of many interactive networks. One way of looking at the complex and chaotic nature of society is to see it as a collection of different nodes of interaction. Humans are constantly surrounded by networks: the social network, the financial network, the transport network, the telecommunications network and even the network of our own bodies. Understanding how these systems operate and interact with one another has been the realm of physicists, economists, biologists and mathematicians. Until recently, the study of networks has been mainly theoretical and academic, because it is difficult to gather data about large and complex systems that is sufficiently reliable to support proper empirical application. In recent years, though, the Internet has given researchers the opportunity to study and test the mathematical descriptions of these vast complex systems. The growth rate and structure of cyberspace has allowed researchers to map and test several previously unproven theories about how links and hubs within networks interact with one another. The Web now provides the means with which to test the organisational structures, architecture and growth of networks, and even permits some limited prediction about their behaviour, strengths and vulnerabilities. The main objective of this book is first and foremost to serve as an introduction to the wider legal audience to some of the theories of complexity and networks. The second objective is more ambitious. By looking at the application of complexity theory and network science in various areas of Internet regulation, it is hoped that there will be enough evidence to postulate a theory of Internet regulation based on network science. To achieve these two goals, Chapter 2 will look in detail at the science of complex networks to set the stage for the legal and regulatory arguments to follow. With the increase in reliability of the descriptive (and sometimes predictive) nature of network science, a logical next step for legal scholars is to look at the legal implications of the characteristics of networks. Chapter 3 highlights the efforts of academics and practitioners who have started to find potential uses for network science tools. Chapter 4 takes this idea further, and explores how network theory can shape Internet regulation. The following chapters will analyse the potential for application of the tools described in the previous chapters, applying complexity theory to specific areas of study related to Internet Law. Chapter 5 deals with the subject of copyright in the digital world. Chapter 6 explores the issue of peer-production and user-generated content using network science as an analytical framework. Chapter 7 finishes the evidence section of the work by studying the impact of network architecture in the field of cybercrime, and asks whether the existing architecture hinders or assists efforts to tackle those problems. It is clear that these are very disparate areas of study. It is not the intention of this book to be overreaching in its scope, although I am mindful that it covers a lot of ground and attempts to study and describe some disciplines that fall outside of my intellectual comfort zone. While the focus of the work is the Internet, its applications may extend beyond mere electronic bits. Without trying to be over-ambitious, it is my strong belief that legal scholarship has been neglectful in that it has been slow to respond to the wealth of research into complexity. That is not to say that there has been no legal research on the topic, but it would seem that lawyers, legislators and policy-makers are reluctant to consider technical solutions to legal problems. It is hoped then that this work will serve as a stepping stone that will lead to new interest in some of the theories that I describe.