The Federal Trade Commission is more active than ever in its assertion of authority in the virtual world. The FTC's role is generally understood to include competition analysis, consumer protection, and policy advocacy.
How are each of these functions best accomplished by the FTC in the virtual world? Are there special attributes of the internet and e-commerce that require the FTC to modify its traditional regulatory approach? Will the FTC's planned "Do Not Track" policy be an overall good, or a market inhibitor?
Richard A. Epstein, the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Epstein is also, a visiting professor at NYU Law School.
Francis J. Menton, Jr. is a partner in the Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the Business Litigation Practice Group of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York. Mr. Menton specializes in complex and technical commercial litigation, principally contract and securities claims. He has a nationwide trial practice, and has tried cases in state and federal courts including Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Puerto Rico, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
Joshua Wright is an Assistant Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law and holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Economics. Professor Wright was recently appointed as the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition, where he served until Fall 2008. Professor Wright was a Visiting Professor at the University of Texas School of Law and was a Visiting Fellow at the Searle Center at the Northwestern University School of Law during the 2008-09 academic year.
Professor Wright is the co-editor of the Supreme Court Economic review, and serves on the editorial board of the Antitrust Law Journal, Global Competition Policy, and Competition Policy International. He is a co-founder of the Microsoft / George Mason Annual Conference on the Law and Economics of Innovation, a member of the National Science Foundation Advisory Panel for Law and Social Sciences, a Senior Fellow at the George Mason Information Economy Project, and a regular contributor to Truth on the Market, a weblog dedicated to academic commentary on law, business, and economics.
NYU Law professor Richard Epstein explains why he does not support net neutrality. Epstein argues that congestion and investment issues demand regulation. He likens the Internet to a small path in the wilderness, which can initially remain free, but needs to be structured as usage increases to allow for collective improvement and growth.
Publicly accessible computer network connecting many smaller networks from around the world. It grew out of a U.S. Defense Department program called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), established in 1969 with connections between computers at the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. ARPANET's purpose was to conduct research into computer networking in order to provide a secure and survivable communications system in case of war. As the network quickly expanded, academics and researchers in other fields began to use it as well. In 1971 the first program for sending e-mail over a distributed network was developed; by 1973, the year international connections to ARPANET were made (from Britain and Norway), e-mail represented most of the traffic on ARPANET. The 1970s also saw the development of mailing lists, newsgroups and bulletin-board systems, and the TCP/IP communications protocols, which were adopted as standard protocols for ARPANET in 198283, leading to the widespread use of the term Internet. In 1984 the domain name addressing system was introduced. In 1986 the National Science Foundation established the NSFNET, a distributed network of networks capable of handling far greater traffic, and within a year more than 10,000 hosts were connected to the Internet. In 1988 real-time conversation over the network became possible with the development of Internet Relay Chat protocols (seechat). In 1990 ARPANET ceased to exist, leaving behind the NSFNET, and the first commercial dial-up access to the Internet became available. In 1991 the World Wide Web was released to the public (via FTP). The Mosaic browser was released in 1993, and its popularity led to the proliferation of World Wide Web sites and users. In 1995 the NSFNET reverted to the role of a research network, leaving Internet traffic to be routed through network providers rather than NSF supercomputers. That year the Web became the most popular part of the Internet, surpassing the FTP protocols in traffic volume. By 1997 there were more than 10 million hosts on the Internet and more than 1 million registered domain names. Internet access can now be gained via radio signals, cable-television lines, satellites, and fibre-optic connections, though most traffic still uses a part of the public telecommunications (telephone) network. The Internet is widely regarded as a development of vast significance that will affect nearly every aspect of human culture and commerce in ways still only dimly discernible.
Right of a person to be free from intrusion into matters of a personal nature. Although not explicitly mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, a right to privacy has been held to be implicit in the Bill of Rights, providing protection from unwarranted government intrusion into areas such as marriage and contraception. A person's right to privacy may be overcome by a compelling state interest. In tort law, privacy is a right not to have one's intimate life and affairs exposed to public view or otherwise invaded. Less broad protections of privacy are afforded public officials and others defined by law as public figures (e.g., movie stars).