Every now and then, we see regulators trying the most asinine move toward the Internet: banning encryption, requiring this, prohibiting that. They seem to be trying things at random, and a lot of it can be explained with regulators not being permitted to allow the Internet to come into being in the first place.
Regulators remain utterly confused when it comes to the Internet – everything from what it is (it’s an agreement about a communications network with endpoints only) via who is responsible for it (no one, it is an organic agreement between millions much like a language) to whether human rights should apply as usual when using it (yes, very yes).
Much of this confusion can be traced back to the fact that regulators weren’t involved in the Internet’s creation. They never agreed to create something, so they don’t know what previous agreement of theirs can be reversed, extended, or changed. The Internet itself is the first large-scale example of permissionless innovation.
The classic model for creating something new basically goes like this: the three groups of inventors, investors and regulators get together and decide to allow something new temporarily, to try it out. If it works, its permit is made permanent. For an example, see how drone delivery and self-driving cars are being given temporary permissions in some limited areas right now: that’s how practically everything used to get developed.
The notion that the Internet doesn’t need regulation to work is utterly confusing to regulators. The notion that nothing on the Internet needs regulation to work, even the Internet services outcompeting analog services that are tightly regulated, is not just confusing but almost aggravating.
In addition, these are analog regulators we’re talking about. Offline-borns. People who get their e-mails printed for them by their secretary and believe that makes them understand what the Internet is about (and I wish I was making that part up, but I’m not).
Perhaps the best part is that the Internet not only works just fine without regulation, the Internet as an organism is also going to completely ignore any regulation that it doesn’t like. Not only is regulation not needed, it’s also completely ineffective, not to say ignored.
While mostly positive, that’s also why privacy remains your own responsibility.