their cultural and legal integrity. When a near-infinite number of venues can be established, it is possible to organize a group in a way that moves the entire group to another venue, leaving the offender without other communicants. How to determine the appropriate, acceptable, and effective sanctions to control miscreant behavior is an area that still needs careful analysis and development.


The current legal system has evolved out of many decades of experience and precedent in dealing with various media for human expression and behavior. Electronic networks are a relatively new medium, but their novelty should not blind us to the simple fact that they do exist within the current legal context and thus that the current legal regime will have an effect on them. At the same time, their novelty does introduce complications and difficulties into this legal regime.

As electronic networks become more pervasive, a new legal regime will inevitably evolve, involving new law as well as new interpretations of current law. The first steps are being taken today in debates and arguments among users and providers—indeed, all participants in networked communities—as they try to sort out what values we share and what behavior they find acceptable. The ethical values that emerge from that process will be the foundation of a legal regime relevant to electronic networks that is designed to curb harmful behavior while preserving what is unique and distinctive about these new electronic communities.

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