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Introductory Keynote Discussion: Information As Flow
Panel 1: Information as Governance
Panel 2: Economic Forces and the Global Flow of Information
Panel 3: Culture and Information Flow
Panel 4: Politics and Information Flow
Panel 5: Science/Technology and Information Flow
Panel 6: Information as Warfare

Information As Flow - Introductory Keynote Discussion
Friday, April 1, 2005, 6:15 - 7:30pm


Jack Balkin, Yale Law School


Yochai Benkler, Yale Law School

Robert Post, Yale Law School

The digital revolution has led many to assume that from now on information will be cheap, instantaneously delivered, and universally accessible in the form of files, databases, or data packets. To an increasing extent law has begun to acknowledge this paradigm in shaping legal entitlements like copyright or privacy rights.As technology changes how fast information can travel, how easily it can be stored and manipulated, and how widely people can connect to share it and transform it, policy makers must rethink what information is and how we regulate it. At the same time, we have to ask whether the new paradigm of information is accurate or misleads us. We must consider whether the same basic principles apply for all of the different kinds of information that regularly flow across the world's borders.This introductory session frames our discussion of the various contexts of information flow in the panels to follow.

Key questions to consider:
  •  How important is the distinction between digital and analog information transfer?
  • How do fluctuations in rates of information transfer influence people and shape their behavior?
  • Is "flow" the right metaphor to analyze digital information? Is it technically adequate? Does this metaphor mislead us and might there be a better one for some contexts?
  • What consequences does the metaphor of "information flow" have for key legal debates about privacy, copyright, telecommunication, and encryption?
  • Does the metaphor of "information flow" help shed light on who holds power in the new global information economy and how they will use it?
Panel 1: Information as Governance
Saturday, April 2, 2005, 9:30 - 11:00am

Carl Cargill, Sun Microsystems, Inc.
(position paper: "Eating Our Seed Corn: A Parable of Standardization for Today")

Michael Froomkin, University of Miami School of Law
(Position paper: "Plumbing the Depths")

John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
(Position paper: "Local Nets: Filtering and the Internet Governance Problem" )

Joel Reidenberg, Fordham University School of Law
(Position paper: "Law and Accountability in Network Design" )

By now it has become a truism that technological design, whether called "code" or "architecture" is a form of governance. Multiple stakeholders have an influence in how technology is designed and how it regulates. Traditionally scholars have focused on the problems of collective action and influence at the national level. But now new global technological institutions and organizations-like standard setting bodies-- are likely to dominate regulation, and their reach is likely to extend world wide. This panel will focus on the relationship between national and international technological regulation. We will explore different alternatives for technological governance. In particular, the panel will consider the increasing global influence of Industry Standardization Organizations (ISOs), professional consortia, trade associations, formal national and international organizations, and social movements like those pressing for open source standards. In the new global economy, the United States, as one national government, may not play the dominant role it has previously enjoyed. And formal political institutions like national governments or the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)-face difficult problems in how they should deal with regulatory choices made by decentralized standard setters like ISO's. One central question is whether and how governments can maintain their traditional role of ensuring that all interested parties are involved in or represented in making key decisions that affect their lives and fortunes.

Questions before this panel may include:

  • What are the new forms of technological regulation and how do they operate in practice?
  • How do markets, industry and formal standardization organizations interact to shape technological development? How do they exercise their influence and authority?
  • Can there be a global system of checks and balances to make technological design accountable? What could or should be the role of global political institutions, such as WSIS? Is democratic accountability an appropriate goal or does it fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the problem?
  • What role should governments play as guardians of the regulatory processes? Should other institutions be involved as well? What are the risks of this approach?
  • Should some political or scientific organization be charged with establishing international standards to simplify national standardization and decrease development and distribution costs? If so, who should perform this role?

Panel 2: Economic Forces and the Global Flow of Information
Saturday, April 2, 2005, 11:15 - 12:45pm


Richard Cawley, Yale Ctr for International & Area Studies
(Position paper: "Information, Markets, Uncertainty and the Internet")

Miguel Centeno, Princeton University
(Position paper: "Networks of Globalization: Trade, Tourism, and Telephones")

Eli Noam, Columbia University, Business School
(Position paper: The Multiplier II: Hollywood Online)

Arvind Panagariya, Columbia University
(Position paper: "Offshore Outsourcing: Why it is Good for the United States")

While it may be convenient to speak of information flow in abstract, in reality information flows via movement of people, goods and capital, as well as via various communication networks, including the Internet. Thus, economic forces play a key role in shaping the global production, distribution, retention and migration of information.This panel focuses on three aspects of the economic determinants of information flow: technology, data, and human capital in the form of knowledge and skill. In particular the panel will focus on global outsourcing of labor, skills, services, and research and development, the role of intellectual property in shaping economic power, and global trends involving "brain drain."

Questions before this panel may include:

  • What are the limits of metaphors like "brain drain"? To what extent does the flow of skilled persons across borders really shape the production and distribution of information?
  • Who are the biggest economic winners and losers from the global flow of information? Will the current situation reach some sort of balanced equilibrium or is it destined to create a significant and permanent transformation in the relative power of different groups, nations, industries, and professions?
  • What are the global patterns of information flow? Should we assume circulation between a center and a periphery, or is this the wrong model? Are we approaching a world in which information (and the economic power that goes with it) is more or less evenly distributed or will information (and economic power) increasingly concentrate in particular locations?
  • What impact does outsourcing have on the rate of innovation?
  • How does the choice among intellectual property regimes influence the global flow of information, and how is this choice in turn influenced by economic forces?
  • Will the revolution in information technology lead to greater equality of influence, wealth, and resources between the developed world and under-developed countries, or will it lead instead to even greater inequality or, in the alternative, new forms of inequality?

Panel 3: Culture and Information Flow
Saturday, April 2, 2005, 2:15 - 4:00pm


Ed Baker, University of Pennsylvania Law School
(Position paper: "Democratic and Economic Evaluations of Strong and Weak Protectionism")

Jack Balkin, Yale Law School
(Position paper: "Information Power")

Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University
(Position paper: "Prospects for a Global Networked Cultural Heritage:Law Versus Technology?")

Siva Vaidhyanathan , New York University
(Position paper: "The Anarchist in the Coffee House: A Brief Consideration of Local Culture, the Free Culture Movement, and Prospects for a Global Public Sphere")

Pervasive interconnection is the hallmark of the global information society-- everyone is linked to everyone else. A new potential global audience has shaped the production of movies, music, books, and other cultural works, and these, in turn, have penetrated local and national cultures. Multinational corporations seeking ever new markets have spread images and ideas through branding and advertising campaigns. Sometimes existing cultures successfully integrate this influx of new forms of global culture, but sometimes they may also try to resist or reject it.This panel will focus on the capabilities and limitations, the benefits and detriments of new forms of global culture in the digitally networked environment. It will discuss the effect of information flows on the production and evolution of culture. It will also discuss how nations and local communities adapt to the global flow of cultural information, but also exercise resistance to it. The panel will consider the creation of national policies that discriminate against foreign cultural products and promote national works, or that try to keep out what nations and communities consider harmful or dangerous forms of culture. Finally, the panel will explore how new intellectual property rights help facilitate control over culture, and the emergence of new forms of controls over cultural dissemination, such as the broadcast flag and anti-circumvention laws.

Some questions to be considered in this panel include:

  • How does culture evolve in the new global information environment? How do theories of cultural evolution like memetics help us understand this phenomenon?
  • How does the global flow of culture affect and reshape identity-formation, and should the law attempt to interfere with this dynamic?
  • How does the global dissemination of branding, advertisement, and entertainment by multinational businesses shape the development of global culture?
  • What are the implications of new intellectual property rights, such as broadcast rights and anti-circumvention rights for the growth and spread of culture?
  • What are the arguments in favor or against the so-called 'cultural exception' in WTO matters? Does the use of digital information technologies for the dissemination of culture affect the validity of these arguments?

Panel 4: Politics and Information Flow
Saturday, April 2, 2005, 4:00 - 6:00pm


Daniel Drezner, University of Chicago
(Position paper: "Weighing the Scales: The Internet's Effect on State-Society Relations")

Vincent Mosco, Queens University
(Position paper: "Politics and Policies in a Networked World: A Perspective from Canada")

Beth Noveck and David Johnson, New York Law School
(Position paper: "Society's Software")

Politics shapes information flows, but is also shaped by them. Information flows can change the political dynamics both within countries, and internationally. Information flows can also reinforce or destabilize governmental and nongovernmental power structures. The flow of information made possible by digital networks can support new political coalitions, new virtual communities, and, perhaps, new public spheres. At the same time, traditional politics, through governments and international organizations, often defines how information, and what kinds of information, will be permitted to flow across borders. In addition, governments establish regulatory frameworks for information flow, control the various layers of networks and communications systems, and impose filtering strategies to control information flow. Some of these strategies work well, while others fail. Some help their societies, while others help oppress them. Using the Internet, individuals and groups have created international communities that try to convince governments to ban landmines, stop genocide in the Sudan, influence the WTO and the World Bank, and to deliberate globally on U.S. and other elections. Conversely, governments have tried to modify or restrict what people can do on the Internet, and what information they can find, as well as imposing detailed regulations on mass media existing largely within their borders.This panel will discuss how global information flows affect national and international politics, and how politics in turn affects information flows.

Questions before this panel may include:

  • How do international institutions and governments attempt to control information flows in networked environments? How successful have these attempts been, and what are their unexpected side effects?
  • Will digitally networked environments help undermine, or, in some cases, actually reinforce, authoritarian or semi-authoritarian regimes?
  • How will the flow of information affect the power of relatively disempowered groups in existing national and global decision-making spheres?
  • Will new information technologies produce a global public sphere? If so, who will be able to participate and how is most likely to be excluded? Will the global public sphere be coherent or will it be fragmented and separated by differences of language, culture and access to technology?

Panel 5: Science/Technology and Information Flow
Sunday, April 3, 2005, 9:30 - 11:15am


Frederick M. Abbott , Florida State University College of Law
(Position paper: "Patents, Data Protection and Global Information Flow in the Field of Medicines: Power, the Stratification of Wealth and the Consequences for Access and Public Health")

Jamie Love, Consumer Project on Technology

Jerome Reichman, Duke Law School
(Position papers: "Global Trends to Restrict Access to Data from Government Funded Research", "A Contractually Reconstructed Research Commons for Science and Innovation")

Nowhere is the conflict between the radical potential of globalized information flow and the profound consequences of the interruption and regulation of this flow more apparent than in the domain of science. This is especially true in the life sciences: from traditional medicines to the map of the human genome, the processes of science are increasingly globalized. But the AIDS epidemic has highlighted a catastrophic disconnect between the possibilities of global science and the realities of the distribution of its production and consumption. In the name of more and better science, treaties such as TRIPS and regulatory bodies like WIPO are ratcheting up intellectual property protection around the world. Recent debates around and within these institutions has sharpened the conflict and posed a stark question: are we globalizing information and science, or are we globalizing its decline? The focus of the panel will be the control, direction, and production of science, and the distributional consequences of current models of scientific production and protection. This panel will explore the ways that scientific information is transferred globally, how its transfer is impeded, and how its optimal transfer is to be achieved. We will explore (1) the production of globalized science, and particularly models of "open" and "closed" science; (2) the regulation of global scientific information through intellectual property rights agreements and regulatory bodies such as WIPO and the FDA; (3) the effect of regulatory regimes on the recognition and exploitation of traditional knowledge, and what counts as "science" as such; (4) the transfer and exploitation of biological information such as the genome; (5) access to the benefits of science, and particularly medicines, in developing countries; and (6) the role of universities and the public sector in the promotion of equitable and open science.

Questions before this panel may include:

  • Will new digital networking possibilities and global structures of information regulation change the nature of scientific practice, and the impact that science has on society?
  • What impact will the globalization of information (or regulation of information) have on practices of "open" versus "closed science"?
  • How if at all, one can regulate the transfer of scientific and technological information across borders?
  • What should the role of WIPO, governments, NGOs, and corporations be in regulating the flow of science and technology?

Panel 6: Information as Warfare
Sanday, April 3, 2005, 11:30 - 1:00pm


Dorothy Denning, Naval Postgraduate School
(Position paper: "Power on the Information Front")

James Der Derian, Brown University
(Position paper: "Infowar/Infopeace")

Jeremy Kaplan, National Defense University
(Position paper: "Flow of Information in Modern Warfare")

Kim Taipale, Center for Advanced Studies
(Position paper: "Destabilizing Terrorist Networks")

Modern warfare and diplomacy would be impossible without global information flow, but at the same time, they must also try to control this flow. Current national security policies aim to construct a unified information warfare plan to handle the various aspects of the "information front." These include influencing public opinion, defending the nation from harmful information, maintaining the quality of information used to make important decisions, and initiating offensive strategies targeted at the enemy's information systems. Military and political strategy is now inseparable from concern with patterns of information flow. This panel will examine the strategic use of information flow: the use of misinformation and disinformation techniques, accreditation and dis-accreditation of certain sources; control over journalists' access to the battlefield; and the use of manipulative techniques to dominate information search and retrieval access points. It will also explore how information warriors filter traffic, re-route and channel flow or block information nodes and attempt to reshape patterns of information flow. Through this process, innovative defense methods that aim to interfere with the flow of information by polluting the environment or subverting the architecture of flow, actually change the global information ecosystem. Finally, the panel will consider how information warfare goes on the offensive. We will analyze how information warriors try to penetrate, demolish or undermine the enemies' information infrastructure. The panel will discuss methods such as hacking into information sources, inserting malicious code and jamming traffic and consider how attacks on information systems can be leveraged to harm critical infrastructure or to amplify a physical attack.

Questions before this panel may include:

  • What role do nation-states and non-state actors play in information warfare?
  • What effect does digital information flow have on the nature and shape of the modern battlefield?
  • Are existing legal tools adequate to regulate emerging forms of information warfare? What other forms of regulation are needed? Who is best positioned to regulate information warfare and what should be the appropriate enforcement mechanisms?
  • How does information warfare, which relies on the same infrastructures of communication, affect global public discourse?