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First Law of the Internet

Submission to the Workshop on Internet Governance
26-27 February 2004

First Law of the Internet

Author: Karl Auerbach, former North American publicly elected Director, ICANN

I would like to suggest that in our inquiry into governance of the internet that we ought to consider the adoption of certain guiding principles.

Several times over the last few years I have referred to a formulation that I call "The First Law of the Internet".

I believe that this First Law represents an appropriate balance between the public and private effects of internet activity.

The First Law of the Internet:

Every person shall be free to use the Internet in any way that is privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental.

  • The burden of demonstrating public detriment shall be on those who wish to prevent the private use.

    • Such a demonstration shall require clear and convincing evidence of public detriment.

  • The public detriment must be of such degree and extent as to justify the suppression of the private activity.

Updated: 19 Feb 2004 09:50:49 AM



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