White Paper

Self-Regulation: Regulatory Fad or Market Forces?

Self-regulation of the Internet has emerged in a number of contexts, including privacy. Internet filtering technology is also a species of “self-regulation.” And then there is self-regulation of kind less trumpeted by pundits, but important and interesting none-the-less, such as the blacklisting of Internet Service Providers suspected of being spammer havens.

In “real” space, self-regulation of a number of different types has grown up. These include:

  • Regulation of electrical appliances and equipment through the Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Green Seal, which develops standards for environmentally sound products.
  • Certifications for kosher and halal food.
  • Financial rating services, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Moody’s.
  • The MPAA motions picture ratings, the Comics Code, and the Recreational Software Advisory Council.

Some of these systems of self-regulation arrived in response to varying degrees of government pressure, including the MPAA ratings and proposals for self-regulation on privacy. The blacklisting of spammer Internet Service Providers by anti-spam groups like the Open Relay Blocking System and the MAPS Realtime Blackhole list, is a good example of purely private, market driven conduct.

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