ReadMe First Conflicts Res publica Daimonion's Plea Troubleshooting EULA
Troubleshooting
A purely daimonic admonition against embracing "the daily me" principle would perhaps appear remiss if the author did not provide at least some hint of how one might avoid the dangers expounded above. As such, the last chapters of Republic.com 2.0 focus on suggesting some instruments we might use to keep at bay the more damaging consequences of the increased ability to filter information. As summarized in chapter nine, these instruments represent a mixture of voluntary self-regulation and government-enforced regulation that include: disclosure of relevant conduct, economic subsidies, "must-carry" policies designed to promote education and attention to public issues, and so on (192). In focusing on these and similar provisions, Sunstein aims on the one hand to offer ideas that represent incremental improvements, easily applicable within the current context; and on the other hand to offer proposals that "could be implemented through private action, which is the preferred approach by far" (192). This suggests that he is aware of and acknowledges the problematic character of governmental intervention, even though at the same time, as chapters seven and eight illustrate, he refuses to endorse laissez-faire "self-serving myths invoked by those who benefit, every hour of every day, from the exercise of government power on their behalf" (164).

Thus, chapter seven seeks to dispel the myth of an Internet free from all government regulation; property and contract laws, Sunstein notes, are equally applicable offline and online, and they are at the same time the result of government regulation and enforcement. While this discussion of the various shapes government regulation takes is definitely interesting and worth pondering, one cannot escape the feeling that it could benefit from a greater acknowledgment of the borderless nature of online communities, which often results in even more relativized standards as to what constitutes acceptable government intervention: indeed, even property laws that Sunstein views as one of the basic expressions of government intervention are not uniformly understood and applied so that our particular understanding of them can find itself under challenge in places as diverse as China, Russia, Sweden, or Canada.1

Similarly, chapter eight, addressing another essential pillar of a democratic society, freedom of speech, aims to show that, while "the core requirement of the free-speech principle is that with respect to politics, government must remain neutral among points of view" (189), ultimately "free speech is not an absolute": blackmail, child pornography, perjury, and false advertising are just some examples of unprotected speech (175). But even aside from these illegal forms of speech, what Sunstein attempts here is to suggest a graded perspective of governmental speech regulation. On this view, "content neutral" regulation is the least objectionable, whereas viewpoint regulation is seldom, if ever, acceptable. An intermediary, and as such somewhat harder to decide theoretically form of regulation is the one he calls "viewpoint neutral." The purpose of these distinctions to point out that the free-speech principle "should be read in light of the commitment to democratic deliberation" rather than by reference to a "consumer sovereignty" notion that is meant to promote "unlimited consumer options" (177). This will enable us to understand that "government regulation of television, radio, and the Internet is not always objectionable, at least so long as it is reasonably taken as an effort to promote democratic goals" (178). Again, as in the previous chapter little thought seems to be given to the worldwide dimension of the world wide web, which makes enforcement of the theoretical principles of free-speech espoused here even more problematic on websites outside the reach of the US legal system.

Having thus qualified the limits of government intervention, the author goes on to discuss in chapter 9 the series of proposals outlined above. Noting that even a requirement as simple as "disclosure of relevant conduct" has resulted in changing harmful behaviors in the area of environmental protection for instance, the author suggests this might also be suitable "for different communications media" and that "if such policies are not adopted voluntarily, legal requirements might be considered" (197). One such policy/requirement would mandate that television and radio broadcasters "disclose, in some detail and on a quarterly basis, all of their public-service and public-interest activities" (197, italics in text). Similarly, we might consider the PBS model of subsidy in order to "assist high-quality efforts in nonprofit, nongovernmental spaces on the Internet" (203). Also, in discussing the importance of the "must-carry" rules that the Supreme Court established in 1970s for ensuring the presence of a variety of points of view on radio and TV stations, the author acknowledges that such rules have little relevance on the Internet. Still, he remarks, online "we might enlist advertisersí [attention capturing] practices in the service of public-interest goals" (207-8), for instance by voluntarily linking our websites to websites "with a very different point of view" (208).
1. The 2007 Special 301 Report by the Office of the United States Trade Representative offers a very instructive outlook of the "global state of intellectual property rights."