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Abstract from

The Faulty Door of Cyberspace and Implications for Privacy Law

Marc Trabsky is Lecturer in Law at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and a doctoral candidate at the Melbourne Law School.

Julian Thomas is Professor of Media & Communications Law and Director of the Swinburne Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

Megan Richardson is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Media & Communications Law at the University of Melbourne.

This article examines the phenomenon of bloggers, social networkers and other online content creators who find themselves negotiating a position between their expectations of the internet as a system of places and the architecture of the internet as a limitless space, a ‘non-place’. The authors argue that conflicting notions of the internet constitute an uneven and contradictory ‘internet imaginary’, and shape experience online. The law, when confronted with the ambiguities and equivocations of the internet imaginary so far prefers to fall back on the simple idea of the internet as a public space, a space that is not protected from peering eyes and ears of outside observers, a space where activities cannot be made private (at least without special technological expertise), because accidents inevitably happen. So the law will not underwrite users’ expectations of privacy. For now, however, many users of the internet continue to expect from the law a guarantee of privacy in their online experience, at least in some circumstances, even contrary to the assertions of those who insist that architecturally the internet is an open space.

(2013) 29(1) Law in Context 13

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