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Code is law, ethics, research ethics, DMCA, CFAA, disclosure


“Code is Law”, the aphorism Larry Lessig popularized, spoke to the importance of computer code as a central regulating force in the Internet age. That remains true, but today, overreaching laws are also increasingly subjugating important social and ethics questions raised by code to the domain of law. Those laws — like the CFAA and DMCA — need to be curtailed or their zealous enforcement reigned; they deter not only legitimate research but also important related social and ethics questions. But researchers must act too: to re-assert control over the social, legal, and ethical direction of their fields. Otherwise, law will increasingly determine the direction of data science and the ethics of code.


From Selected Works of Jonathon W. Penney