goods and services become available over networks and methods of making and receiving electronic payments securely are implemented. This metaphor emphasizes the actions that people take using the new communications medium, and not just the inert information that flows through the networks or the communities that form around common interests. Rights and responsibilities relate to actions and define which actions are encouraged, allowed, discouraged, or forbidden.

However, despite its strengths, the metaphor also has potential limitations. One is that it is easily interpreted to emphasize commercial transactions at the expense of noncommercial interactions. Thus, not-for-profit ventures and activities (e.g., education, government) may feel less than comfortable with it. A second is that with its economic connotations, it suggests that a kind of laissez-faire philosophy governs operations in the electronic marketplace, when the extent and nature of government regulation are policy issues that have not yet been settled (and are unlikely to be settled for a long time to come). A third is that some commentators use "electronic marketplace" with closer attention to its political origins and in the same sense that the term "marketplace of ideas" is used—as a description of an arena in which ideas and/or information are freely circulated to all without regard to size or political power, are exposed to public scrutiny or use, and survive or disappear according to their quality and value.

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