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The digital revolution continues to alter both local culture and the world in ways that few could have imagined when the seeds of the Internet were sown more than 40 years ago. The Internet allows ideas, news and other information to flow more freely than ever before, making it increasingly difficult for nations to control this flow at their geographical borders. Moreover, the Internet is forcing changes in many long-standing business models. It now serves for many as the preferred means of communication and media delivery, displacing or supplementing other means, such as traditional copper phone service, print media, subscription TV services and broadcast networks, in the process. The Internet now also serves as a new marketplace for goods and services, as well as a primary research tool for many.
The legal frameworks in many jurisdictions are now straining under these disruptive changes. The old adage that technology outpaces the law is more true today than ever. No doubt, the ‘hands-off’ approach to the Internet that many lawmakers and regulators once took has facilitated many of these developments. At the same time, policymakers are now struggling with new types of concerns, as broadband Internet access service becomes more and more essential to our lives.