As international entities and information disseminators, internet service providers (ISPs) often find themselves caught up in debates about their rights to do business within the boundaries of foreign nation-states. This article argues that if ISPs in the business of information provision are reconceptualized as important components of domestic media systems—rather than thought of as foreign corporations attempting to impose alien norms on citizens—they will garner more support from populations in a range of countries. This subverts the typical “cyber-optimist” argument inherent in some ISP corporate philosophy that the internet can impose international norms of communication across a range of states. Rather, this article suggests that the argument for the value of ISPs should lie in how they augment national cultures of communication in ways that parallel domestic, non-state media outlets. This contradicts the rather dominant conception of ISPs as a sort of a “Trojan Horse” of information (Tsui cited in MacKinnon 2011, p. 34), a conduit through which alien and possibly dangerous information is embedded within a domestic media system. This article uses a discussion of domestic media norms, including the role of journalists in various countries, to explore how information provision provided by ISPs may augment democratic discussion in ways that best resonate with citizens across a range of regimes.
Philosophy & Technology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 19, 2011