Law in the Internet Society

Professor Eben Moglen
Columbia Law School
Fall 2020

Before our meeting 23 September, you must have:

  1. Registered to use the wiki ;
  2. Read about VirtualInstruction and the EvaluationPolicy;
  3. Signed up to be notified of changes here by email, or subscribe to the news feed;
  4. Acquired DejaVu viewer software for your computers and personal tracking devices;
  5. Created your StudentJournal.

Wiki registration will close on the 22nd. If you mean to pass the course, you must by then have completed these steps.

If you are local, we will begin in-person instruction, in small groups outdoors in Riverside Park, the week of Sepember 28. OutdoorSignUp will begin September 24.

In preparation for the meeting of 23 September,

  1. Watch the 2019 Netflix documentary The Great Hack.(1)
  2. Read the section on GraspingtheNet;
  3. Read what's On The Radar;
  4. Listen to the class audio file.

You should be prepared to ask at least one question at the class meeting, which will be held by Etherpad.

My office hours in fall 2020, under epidemic conditions, are held here Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3pm-5pm, and by appointment. To make an appointment, please email, or consult my assistant, Jerrica Sosa, at 212-461-1905, Mon-Thu.

On the Radar

Josh Simons and Dipayan Ghosh, Utilities for democracy: Why and how the algorithmic infrastructure of Facebook and Google must be regulated, Foreign Policy, August 2020

Sue Halpern, The Trump Campaign’s Mobile App Is Collecting Massive Amounts of Voter Data, The New Yorker, September 13, 2020

GPT-3, A Robot Wrote This Entire Article. Are You Scared Yet, Human?, The Guardian, September 8, 2020

Julia Jacobs, Natural History Museum Union Files Complaint Over Coronavirus App, New York Times, August 26, 2020

Thompson and Warzel, Smartphones are Spies, New York Times December 20, 2019

Lora Kelley, When Big Brother Isn't Scary Enough, New York Times, November 4, 2019

Economic Times Staff, Mass Surveillance: Face Recognition in India, Economic Times, November 7, 2019

Scroll Staff, Whatsapp spyware: 14 confirmed cases,, October 31, 2019

Scroll Staff, Whatsapp spyware used on Indian activists,, October 31, 2019

Nellie Bowles, Addicted to Screens? That's Really a You Problem, New York Times, October 6, 2019

Bianca Vivion Brooks, Fear of Being Forgotten, New York Times, October 1, 2019

Jane Rosenzweig, The Whistle-Blower's Guide to Writing, New York Times, September 27, 2019

Timothy Liebert, This Article is Spying on You, New York Times, September 18, 2019

Adam Santariano, Real-Time Surveillance Will Test the British Tolerance for Cameras, New York Times, September 15, 2019

Rob Walker, There Is No Tech Backlash, New York Times, September 14, 2019

Glenn S. Gerstell, I Work for N.S.A. We Cannot Afford to Lose the Digital Revolution, New York Times, September 10, 2019

Eben Moglen and Mishi Choudhary, Zuckerberg Nobly Carries White Man's Burden: Poor Indians' Data Packets, Indian Express, October 30, 2015

Jim Dwyer, Volkswagen's Diesel Fraud Makes Critic of Secret Code a Prophet, September 22, 2015

Eben Moglen, Transcript: When Software is in Everything: Future Liability Nightmares Free Software Helps Avoid, June 30, 2010

People Love Spying On One Another: A Q & A With Facebook Critic Eben Moglen, Washington Post, November 19, 2014

Watch: IASC & the Elinor Ostrom Award, Commons In Action (2014)

atockar, Riding with the Stars: Passenger Privacy in the NYC Taxicab Dataset, Neustar Research, September 15, 2014


Introduction, Political Economy:
The Way We Live Now

Sociology, Economics, Legal Theory:
Grasping the Net

Copyright and Other Intellectual Improperty:
Anarchists, Authors, and Owners

Carriage Regulation:
Controlling the Switches

Privacy in Private and Public Law:
The State, The Spook, The Cop, Her Wife, and His Lover

Eyes Wide Shut:
Taboo Enforcement and Free Expression

Making Broadcasters Unconstitutional:
Rethinking Media Law

Electronic Democracy:
Restructuring Politics

A Word on Technology Old and New About the Word

This seminar is an attempt to learn about, understand and predict the development of law in a rapidly changing area. We must assemble the field of knowledge relevant to our questions even as we begin trying to answer them. Wiki technology is an ideal match for the work we have in hand. Below you will find an introduction to this particular wiki, or TWiki, where you can learn as much or as little about how this technology works as you want.

For now, the most important thing is just that any page of the wiki has an edit button, and your work in the course consists of writings that we will collaboratively produce here. You can make new pages, edit existing pages, attach files to any page, add links, leave comments in the comment boxes--whatever in your opinion adds to a richer dialog. During the semester I will assign writing exercises, which will also be posted here. All of everyone's work contributes to a larger and more informative whole, which is what our conversation is informed by, and helps us to understand.

Please begin by registering. I look forward to seeing you at our first meeting on the 10th.

Introduction to the LawNetSoc Web

The LawNetSoc site is a collaborative class space built on Twiki [], a free software wiki system. If this is your first time using a wiki for a long term project, or first time using a wiki at all, you might want to take a minute and look around this site. If you see something on the page that you don't know how to create in a wiki, take a look at the text that produced it using the "Edit" button at the top of each page, and feel free to try anything out in the Sandbox.

All of the Twiki documentation is also right at hand. Follow the TWiki link in the sidebar. There are a number of good tutorials and helpful FAQs there explaining the basics of what a wiki does, how to use Twiki, and how to format text.

From TWiki's point of view, this course, Law in the Internet Society, is one "web." There are other webs here: the sandbox for trying wiki experiments, for example, and my other courses, etc. You're welcome to look around in those webs too, of course. Below are some useful tools for dealing with this particular web of ours. You can see the list of recent changes, and you can arrange to be notified of changes, either by email or by RSS feed. I would strongly recommend that you sign up for one or another form of notification; if not, it is your responsibility to keep abreast of the changes yourself.

LawNetSoc Web Utilities


1 : If, like me, you don't have a Netflix account and don't want to be surveilled while watching, click here.