Internet law refers to the legal structures and principles that govern the use or application of online activities (internet). ‘Law of the Horse’ is a term that was coined to try and explain the inadequacy, insufficiency, and ineffectiveness of a legal structure and litigation system would be adopted to govern internet activity. To determine whether internet law can be compared to ‘law of the horse,’ it is crucial to look at the similarities and differences between the two. One similarity is that the two have a legal structure that touches on various aspects of the judicial system. The internet law, for instance, has particular laws that provide legal guidelines on the creation of websites, service providers, online trade, and the overall conduct of individuals when transacting through the internet. Law of the horse outlines the legal loopholes or vulnerabilities that may be available due to the structuring of the legal system that controls the activities and conduct of people on the internet (Easterbrook, 1996). Therefore, despite their differences, the internet law and law of the horse have a legal concern or entity.
Proficiency in the provision of a comprehensive set of legal guidelines that govern the use, structuring, and operation of the internet is another similarity between the two systems. It is important to note that Easterbrook was mainly motivated to explore the reasons why cyber laws would not be feasible if they were adopted in the judicial system. Therefore, in the law of the horse, Easterbrook was trying to be proficient in proving the inability of cyber laws to be feasible. On the other hand, the internet laws are also tailored specifically to make sure that there is an elaborate, definitive, and effective model that can be adopted in the legal system. In an article to respond to Easterbrook’s horse laws, Lessig argued that the meticulousness involved in making websites, their running, and the overall concept of monitoring is more complex than devising legal guidelines to control the same (Lessig, 1999). Therefore, according to him, if the Congress wanted to adopt a legal system to impose control on internet activities, they could do so without the hindrance of the law of the horse.
There are several differences between the internet law and the law of the horse. First, there is higher detail in the internet law as compared to the law of the horse. This is because the law of the horse was initially modeled in the mid-90s. At that time, the internet was still in its emergence stages (Grimmelmann, 2017). Additionally, there was very little diversity in the activities that were carried out on the internet. For this reason, the law of the horse was comparatively ‘shallower’ as compared to the law of the internet; which does not date as back as the law of the horse. The aspect of proficiency can also form a basis of differences between the internet law and the law of the horse. The difference is that while the internet law is proficient in drafting an all-binding legal structure, the law of the horse is proficient in exploring the loopholes that are presented by the idea of embedding cyber activities in the judicial system (Smith, 2007).
I believe that there can be internet law. First, I think that Easterbrook created a solid foundation on which internet law can be created. Easterbrook did so by exploring all the loopholes that would make the feasibility of internet law impossible (according to his thought and internet technology of that time). Therefore, the first guideline on which internet law would be created is by using the elements pointed out in the law of the horse. By using the horse law as a guideline, all the loopholes outlined by Easterbrook would be sealed when creating internet law. Just like Lessig stated, the complexity of creating websites and structuring systems to run websites is higher than that of creating a legal system to govern the same. For these reasons, I believe that there will be such thing as internet law.
- Easterbrook, F. H. (1996). Cyberspace and the Law of the Horse. University of Chicago Law School.
- Grimmelmann, J. (2017). Internet Law: Cases and Problems. Semaphore Press.
- Lessig, L. (1999). The Law of the Horse: What cyber Law might Teach.
- Smith, G. J. H. (2007). Internet Law and Regulation. Sweet & Maxwell.