What rules the Internet? A study of the troubled relation between Web standards and legal instruments in the field of privacy
|Titre||What rules the Internet? A study of the troubled relation between Web standards and legal instruments in the field of privacy|
|Type de publication||Article|
|Année de publication||2021|
|Titre de la revue||Telecommunications Policy|
|Mots-clés||Internet governance, Privacy, Techno-policy standard-setting, Web standards|
There is a wide variety of policy instruments that political entrepreneurs wishing to influence policy outcomes in the field of Internet Governance may choose from. There is a strategic dimension to this choice. This paper studies how standards and laws interact in the governance of Web privacy, by looking at the case of two groups within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C): the Tracking Protection Working Group and the Privacy Interest Group. Despite the prevalence of discourses stating that the realm of Internet standards are free from the “weary giants of flesh and steel” John Perry Barlow referred to in his Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, laws, or at least some of them, do exercise a significant amount of influence in the shaping of Web standards dealing with privacy. Laws were quoted as arguments by participants trying to settle disagreements. They influenced certain – but not all – sections of the proposed Do Not Track specifications. This influence should not, however, be understood as meaning that there is a clear recognition by standard-setters that laws are, or even should be superior to standards in a hierarchy of norms that would be impossible to establish due to the nation-bounded nature of laws against the global scope of Web standards.