A research project under the auspices of the project group and the National Research Council (USA), financed by the German American Academic Council. The project is co-chaired by Christoph Engel and Kenneth H. Keller (Political Sciences, University of Minnesota). The Steering Committee comprises Kenneth W. Dam (Law, University of Chicago Law School), Paul David (Economics, Stanford University and All Souls College, Oxford), Klaus W. Grewlich (Law, Freiburg University and College of Europe, Bruges), Bernd Holznagel (Law, University of Münster), Michael Hutter (Economics, Witten-Herdecke University), Kenneth Keniston (Technology and Society, MIT), Henry Perritt (Law, Chicago-Kent School of Law), Robert Spinrad (Technology, Xerox), Raymund Werle (Political Sciences, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne) and Martina Zitterbart (Technology, University of Braunschweig).
Opportunities and risks are twins. There are few who would deny the opportunities provided by global networks in general and the Internet in particular. But many fear the concomitant risks, or what they perceive as risks. Racist speech, pornography, and misuse of personal data rank highest in public awareness. Some concerns are almost universal, such as child pornography. With respect to others there are at least differences of degree. In the light of its history, Germany has actually banned right-wing publications that would be allowed, even if not admired, in the United States. On the other hand, Americans in large numbers deem material pornographic which most Germans would find inoffensive. Privacy is also interpreted in different ways in these two societies. These contrasts lead some to a stark and simplistic assertion: global networks threaten local values. The reality of global networks, and of their interrelation with local values, is much more complex.
The steering committeee convoked two international symposia of invited experts. The First Symposium, held in February 1999 at Dresden, was dedicated to positive analysis. The fields covered ranged from cultural theory to law, from systems theory to economics, from sociology to political science. The Second Symposium, held in June 1999 at Woods Hole, Mass., focussed on Internet governance. It looked at democracy, culture, freedom of speech, privacy, freedom of information (i.e. access to government information) and at governance tools. The proceedings of the First Symposium are already published, the proceedings of the Second Symposium are in print.
The Papers: Dresden, Woods Hole.
The committee is in the process of producing a final report addressed to policy-makers in both countries. The report will be evaluated in a review process organized by the National Research Council.