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Frontier Compliance: A Communication System Emerging in Cyberspace
Unformatted Document Text:  3 Frontier Compliance: A Communication System Emerging in Cyberspace What exactly is cyberspace? Scholars, commentators and critics have tried to define the cyberspace, i.e., what kind of society it is; how it is different from the real space; and what kind of a communication system is being developed (e.g., Stefik, 1996; Smith & Kollock, 1999; Danet, 2001; Barnes, 2002). One of the most interesting questions regards the openness and freedom of cyberspace, and the possibility of control and governance of cyberspace. Is anyone in charge? Can it be controlled and regulated? And what makes people comply? These are the questions that have attracted scholars interested in information technology, law, regulation, governance, and the relationship among them (Katsh, 1989 & 1995; Gandy, Jr., 1993; Loader, 1997; Lessig, 1999). Various analogies and metaphors have been adopted as attempts to answer these questions regarding the nature of control in cyberspace. One of the significant myths of the newly developed cyberspace was the commonly accepted notion that no one is in charge. Cyberspace has often been viewed as a free and wide-open space. The Wild West metaphor is typically used, to depict cyberspace as a “lawless frontier where anarchy and vigilantism are alive and well” (Biegel, 2001, p. 4). But Biegel then describes the cyberspace frontier as only a romantic image, which is little more than a myth, as the Internet over the years seems to be under a significant degree of control. A few scholars feel that in light of the various attempts to control the cyberspace by firewall, copyright management systems, demands for digital signatures and credit card numbers, digital watermarks, and other institutional crime control efforts the Wild West analogy is no longer valid (Alard & Kass, 1997, p. 569). However, whether it is myth or popular culture fiction, conceptualizing cyberspace as a new and unknown places, where no rules were established or newcomers created their own rules, fits well with the idea of Western, new frontiers. This article uses the metaphor of the new frontier to describe and understand the cyberspace and the nature of control in cyberspace. The emergence and disappearance of the Wild West as the frontier and free land has great significance in American history. Many stories, myths, and legends regarding the West reveal the frontier experiences in which people of the West complied to a very different kind of governing system, although the West later assimilates itself to the older social conditions of the East showing increasing resemblances and connections between the New World and the Old (See Turner, 1996; Rosa, 1969; Lewis, 1996; and Wellman, 1961). Cyberspace is yet another frontier, a new, unlimited space. As in the American West, people go into this new space and try to obtain domain space for their

Authors: Woo, Jisuk.
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3
Frontier Compliance:
A Communication System Emerging in Cyberspace
What exactly is cyberspace? Scholars, commentators and critics have tried to
define the cyberspace, i.e., what kind of society it is; how it is different from the real
space; and what kind of a communication system is being developed (e.g., Stefik, 1996;
Smith & Kollock, 1999; Danet, 2001; Barnes, 2002). One of the most interesting
questions regards the openness and freedom of cyberspace, and the possibility of control
and governance of cyberspace. Is anyone in charge? Can it be controlled and regulated?
And what makes people comply? These are the questions that have attracted scholars
interested in information technology, law, regulation, governance, and the relationship
among them (Katsh, 1989 & 1995; Gandy, Jr., 1993; Loader, 1997; Lessig, 1999).
Various analogies and metaphors have been adopted as attempts to answer these
questions regarding the nature of control in cyberspace. One of the significant myths of
the newly developed cyberspace was the commonly accepted notion that no one is in
charge. Cyberspace has often been viewed as a free and wide-open space. The Wild
West metaphor is typically used, to depict cyberspace as a “lawless frontier where
anarchy and vigilantism are alive and well” (Biegel, 2001, p. 4). But Biegel then
describes the cyberspace frontier as only a romantic image, which is little more than a
myth, as the Internet over the years seems to be under a significant degree of control. A
few scholars feel that in light of the various attempts to control the cyberspace by
firewall, copyright management systems, demands for digital signatures and credit card
numbers, digital watermarks, and other institutional crime control efforts the Wild West
analogy is no longer valid (Alard & Kass, 1997, p. 569). However, whether it is myth or
popular culture fiction, conceptualizing cyberspace as a new and unknown places,
where no rules were established or newcomers created their own rules, fits well with the
idea of Western, new frontiers. This article uses the metaphor of the new frontier to
describe and understand the cyberspace and the nature of control in cyberspace.
The emergence and disappearance of the Wild West as the frontier and free
land has great significance in American history. Many stories, myths, and legends
regarding the West reveal the frontier experiences in which people of the West complied
to a very different kind of governing system, although the West later assimilates itself to
the older social conditions of the East showing increasing resemblances and connections
between the New World and the Old (See Turner, 1996; Rosa, 1969; Lewis, 1996; and
Wellman, 1961). Cyberspace is yet another frontier, a new, unlimited space. As in the
American West, people go into this new space and try to obtain domain space for their


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