Towards a just and fair Internet: Applying Rawls’ principles of justice to Internet regulation

David Douglas

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I suggest that the social justice issues raised by Internet regulation be exposed and examined by using a methodology adapted from that described by John Rawls in A Theory of Justice. Rawls’ theory uses the hypothetical scenario of people deliberating about the justice of social institutions from the ‘original position’ as a method of removing bias in decision-making about justice. The original position imposes a ‘veil of ignorance’ that hides the particular circumstances of individuals from them so that they will not be influenced by self-interest. I adapt Rawls’ methodology by introducing an abstract description of information technology to those deliberating about justice from within the original position. This abstract description focuses on information devices that users can use to access information (and which may record information about them as well) and information networks that information devices use to communicate. The abstractness of this description prevents the particular characteristics of the Internet and the computing devices in use from influencing the decisions about the just use and regulation of information technology and networks. From this abstract position, the principles of justice that the participants accept for the rest of society will also apply to the computing devices people use to communicate, and to Internet regulation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-64
JournalEthics and information technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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