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Imagining New LegalitiesPrivacy and Its Possibilities in the 21st Century$
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Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merrill Umphrey

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804777049

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804777049.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM STANFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.stanford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Stanford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in SSO for personal use.date: 12 April 2021

Configuring the Networked Citizen

Configuring the Networked Citizen

(p.129) Configuring the Networked Citizen
Imagining New Legalities

Julie E. Cohen

Stanford University Press

This chapter considers two interrelated questions that flow from understanding sociotechnical change as (re)configuring networked subjects. First, it revisits the way that legal and policy debates locate networked information technologies with respect to the public/private divide. The design of networked information technologies and communications devices is conventionally treated as a private matter. The classification of “code” as presumptively private has effects that reach beyond debates about the scope of constitutional guarantees, shaping views about the extent to which regulation of technical design decisions is normatively desirable. That discursive process is reexamined, using lenses supplied by literatures on third-party liability and governance. Second, the chapter considers the relationship between sociotechnical change and understandings of citizenship. The ways that people think, form beliefs, and interact with one another are centrally relevant to the sorts of citizens that they become. The gradual embedding of networked information technologies into the practice of everyday life therefore has important implications for both the meaning and the practice of citizenship in the emerging networked information society. If design decisions are neither “merely” technical nor presumptively private, then they should be subject to more careful scrutiny with regard to the kind of citizen they produce.

Keywords:   sociotechnical change, network subjects, information technology, information society, citizenship

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