Yesterday, I was surprised to receive an email from one of the reviewers of the text of my new book. The email was introducing me to one of the reviewer’s colleagues and encouraging a meeting to discuss the synergies and potential behind some of the ideas presented in my book.
It was actually very humbling, for the reviewer had copy, cut and pasted into his email three paragraphs from my book that he felt were worth quoting. What were those words? They appear below, part of a much more complete presentation on the emergence of systems law, enabling governance of systems entirely from within the rulebases that are part of the system themselves.
"The collision of sovereign interests in regulating Net-based conduct is exemplified by the complexity and ineffectiveness with which nation states have sought to regulate the collection and use of personal information—so-called privacy laws. The current chaos of regulations among regions, nations, states and local entities is dysfunctional; the privacy laws reflect sovereign variations that are entirely inconsistent, from a systems perspective, with the appetite for uniformity and consistency. Nearly any organization that conducts business in multiple countries (or states) accepts that it is not realistic to conform all of their systems to all of the rules, and they operate with some known risk of legal non-compliance. By contrast, an essential design principle of systems law is that a system can be governed entirely within its perimeter by rule-sets that are embedded within its function and operation.
Stated differently, there is no need to author rules through formal lawmaking that define permissible and impermissible conduct within systems—the standards can be expressed within the applications, interfaces and controls that are the components of the system and enforced with ruthless automated precision. Systems have a unique capacity to operate without regard to terrestrial variables—the locations of machines, users, storage devices and the networks connecting them do not affect functionality or execution. Thus, the rights, permissions and prohibitions to which any user or digital information asset are subject can be entirely self-contained within the system and can be administered consistently without regard to jurisdictional realities.
Indeed, in a world of global operations enabled across the Net, the integrity and completeness with which a system’s governance is executed is co-dependent with the values of predictability and certainty that are essential to earning the trust of a system’s operators and users. Stated differently, the more independent a system can operate without regard to the laws of specific jurisdictions, the more likely that system will succeed in delivering value and efficiency to those who are its stakeholders. Sovereign state efforts to regulate an inherently global space, such as the Net, ultimately inhibit, rather than enable, their own constituents ability to act with agility and responsiveness against global competition (and globally distributed bad actors)."
Do these ideas ring true to you? Are they right or are they wrong? You are invited to post your comments.