The ‘Principles in Context’ Approach to Internet Policymaking

by Andrew L. Shapiro, Senior Advisor, Markle Foundation

1 Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 2 (2000) (Published April 5, 2000)


The Principles in Context Approach to Internet Policymaking discusses a new method of regulating aspects of the Internet. Since its emergence, a common inquiry in public policy circles has been the “metaphor” question. In trying to figure out what rules should apply to computer networks such as the Internet, lawmakers and policy analysts want to know: what’s the right metaphor? Thus far in the Internet’s short history, both the “existing rules” approach and the “new context” approach have been tried – each with their fair share of problems. The author argues that a solution to this quandary lies in finding a balance between those two approaches: a way that might be called the “principles-in-context” approach. This generally means taking the principles that underlie existing laws and rules and mapping them to fit a new context.

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