The Electronic Silk Road: How the Web Binds the World Together in Commerce

Anupam Chander, Author
Anupam Chander. Yale Univ., (296p) $28 ISBN 978-0300154597
Reviewed on: 07/22/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
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Law professor Chander's analysis illuminates how online service transactions influence global governance and demonstrates evolving cultural systems for creating relationships. He contends that when technology moves an activity online, people still crave indicators of reliability and authenticity, thus service infrastructure must replicate such assurances between customer and service provider. Although advocates of "free trade" have often been human rights foes, Chander envisions the use of economic regulatory tools as potential enforcers of human rights. He examines the political implications of "Trade 2.0.", analogizing the practices of the ancient Silk Road to more modern conceptions of trading norms. Theorizing service providers as "travelers" in cross-jurisdictional transactions, Chander argues providers should follow consumers' jurisdictional laws, when these respect "popular sovereignty" and international law. This principle of "glocalization" suggests that international service providers must adapt products for users in each jurisdiction, and he promotes regulatory harmonization in contrast to strategies that directly transfer or export U.S. laws. Chander's work should be required reading on the linkage of freedom of speech, commercial data gathering, and government access, and his prose style renders seemingly mundane details as both consequential and easy to understand. (July)
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