Goldsmith and Wu’s objection to extending the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to apply throughout the world does not hold much merit. Admittedly, the First Amendment provides Americans with historically unprecedented privileges with regard to freedom of thought and expression, which contrasts with the more conservative entitlement of rights elsewhere in the world. So what? As Mueller rightly points out, if a universal liberal standard of communication is adopted in the Internet, it will bring together peoples across the globe and help create awareness and understanding of other cultures and values. Any counter measure that segregates people on the basis of their nationality will undermine relations between nation-states and induce suspicion and tension in the already fragile world polity. After all, the drafting of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a valid proof of the fact that in essence, people across the world share the same values and aspirations. Enforcing national boundaries in the digital world would only discredit this principle.
Hence, in the final analysis, while Goldsmith and Wu bring forth new perspectives about the nature and role of the Internet, the evident bias in their work in favor of creating national barriers to the flow of information dilutes its other merits. Milton Mueller, on the other hand, makes a more careful and objective scrutiny of the issue and highlights the moral ambiguities and logical oversights present in Goldsmith and Wu’s book. Mueller’s recommendation of a universal standard for Internet communication does appear to be the progressive alternative to the status quo; and the United Nations can play a crucial role in bringing this transformation to fruition.
Jack Goldsmith & Timothy Wu, Who Controls the Internet?: Illusions of a Borderless World.
Milton Mueller, The New Cyber-Conservatism: Goldsmith/Wu and the Premature Triumphalism of the Territorial Nation-State.