The constitutional dimension of the Internet : some research paths
Title: The constitutional dimension of the Internet : some research paths
Author: SIMONCINI, Andrea
Series/Number: EUI LAW; 2016/16
The advent of Internet, as a new super-powered communication technology, has a huge impact on human thinking, therefore, on social relationships and, at the end, on law. Specifically, Internet plays a double interaction with the realm of constitutional law: on the one hand, it is a new powerful tool to pursue constitutional aims (a new way to define, control and regulate power); on the other, it is a new object of the constitutional law (a new power to be defined, controlled, and regulated). This phenomenon has been acutely defined as the ambivalence of "technocratic paradigm". The initial hypothesis of the relation Internet-Constitutional Law has been that of a "linear" proportion, that is: the more Internet grows, the more Democracy and Citizenship equally grow. The paper suggests some research paths - both on “Internet-Democracy” and on “Internet-Citizenship” sides - proving the inconsistency of that hypothesis. "Constitutional crowdsourcing" experiments, web tools for participatory democracy; social-media as factors of political mobilization, are all cases showing ambivalent/ambiguous results: technology can be a strong growth factor for democratic advancement and constitutional participation, but it triggers equally strong counter-forces. The rise of the doctrine of "cyber-sovereignty", as a reaction to the freedom of cyber space, the powerful constitutional resilience of the "classical" representative institutions when challenged by new Internet-based participatory channels (whether through constitutional crowdsourcing or participatory democracy), the compound nature of the new "Right to Internet" and, finally, the shifting role of social media in the political mobilization, are as many good examples of a "non-linear" relation between Internet and Constitutional Law. This ambivalence of technology requires a new reasonable and precautionary regulation, beyond the binary option: absolute prohibition/absolute freedom. The paper claims for a different multidisciplinary research approach, able to combine traditional legal tools with ethical guidelines and moral directions ("normative crescendo").
Subject: Internet and constitutional law; Law and technology; Internet and democracy; Internet and citizenship; Constitutional crowdsourcing
Type of Access: openAccess