Analyzing Foreign Policies of the Internet: Problems of Legitimacy and Knowledge in Collaborative Lawmaking

This post by Wolfgang Schulz is part of a series related to the 2014 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy: The Third Man Theme Revisited: Foreign Policies of the Internet in a Time Of Surveillance and Disclosure, which takes place in Vienna, Austria from March 30 – April 1, 2014.

During my latest research on internet policies and governance I have become more and more interested in legitimacy and knowledge problems in lawmaking during this time of “multistakeholdersim.” The Brazilian “Marco Civil” project is, for two key reasons, a perfect case of lawmaking that shortly illustrates these problems.

 Firstly, Marco Civil attempts to create a comprehensive framework for the internet as the basic information infrastructure of the knowledge society and the process of drafting the law has been highly participatory (Steibel, 2012). In this regard the Marco Civil process is significant as to how it reconstructs and seeks to change elements of legitimacy at first hand. Legitimacy is key to the acceptance of laws and regulations by those affected including citizens, NGOs, governments, and corporations.  Lawmaking and the question of legitimacy is, of course, first and foremost a political matter. In a democracy, the definition of what might be considered a social problem and which regulatory means should be applied to solve it, should be designed as a process of “public reasoning” (c.f. Kant, 1784, p. 490). That challenge can also be tackled by participatory means. Well-designed participatory processes have…

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