Abstract - The Information Society 23(5)

Democratic and Anti-Democratic Regulators of the Internet: A Framework

Michael L. Best and Keegan W. Wade

We employ Lessig’s framework of regulation to conceptualize the relationship between the Internet and democracy. Lessig defines four classes of regulators, forces that control and define systems such as the Internet. They are markets, architectures, norms, and laws. We propose that a “democratic regulator” is a force that serves to enhance civil or political liberties. And we argue by example that there are democratic (and, indeed, anti-democratic) regulators which control aspects of cyberspace. Expressing the democratic effects of the Internet in this manner may prove useful for future comparisons across existing Internet and democracy theories, especially in the realm of quantitative analyses.


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