chapter  11
17 Pages

Maintaining order and law on the Internet D AV I D WA L L

ByDavid Wall

As we come to terms with the Internet, it is now quite clear that it is revolutionizing many aspects of our “social” life. Unfortunately this includes criminal activity (see Chapters 1 and 2). Yet the anarchy that was predicted by those who favoured early regulation2 has not materialized, and the cyberspace3 which has been created by the Internet is remarkably ordered considering its sheer size in terms of the large numbers of individuals involved and also the breadth of their involvement (Davies, 1998). So, we either have a case of exaggerated claims, or there is some mechanism that is already operating to create and maintain a sense of order in cyberspace. In fact, it will be suggested later in this chapter that the answer is a combination of both positions. Some claims have clearly been exaggerated, but we can also observe a structure of governance which has emerged to encourage order. But it is with this duality in mind that this chapter will explore the policing4 of cyberspace, particularly the issue of order maintenance on the Internet. Much of the debate over law and order on the Internet has focused upon the issue of enforcing law and investigating crimes; this emphasis largely ignores one of the primary functions of policing which is the maintenance of order. In fact the terms “order” and “law” have been deliberately reversed in the title and elsewhere, so as to break the conceptual link that has increasingly bound the two concepts since the late 1970s (see further, Fowles, 1993: 116; Wall, 2000). Clearly the policing of the Internet is about more than just simply enforcing the law; rather, it is about regulating the behaviour of Internet users “in the shadow of law” (Wall, 2000).