Position Statement

Jonathan Zittrain

The openness that drives not only the Web but the PC, too, is premised on certain assumptions that have outlived their founding era. As millions of mainstream consumers place their PCs upon always-on broadband connections, the vulnerability to a near-system-wide catastrophic virus outbreak rises precipitously. If the Internet has a "9/11" moment (though I'm not sure I'd use the "9/11" metaphor), we'll see a sudden alignment of consumer demand with the pressures of publishers and governments to make the Net -- and the PCs attached to it -- more regulable. The blue-ribbon commission that will be empaneled during and after a cybersecurity crisis will likely adopt proposals that will stifle the generative foundation of the Web at exactly the time that it's having the most payoff. The puzzle is how to thread the security needle -- maintaining the precious generative system that persists largely as a result of historical inertia, while accepting that some fundamental changes are necessary to information architecture in order to keep the positive revolution going.