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Global Networks and Local Values


 Global Networks and Local Values: A Comparative Look at Germany and the United States
This report focuses on the relationship between global information networks and local values (political, economic, and cultural norms). The book is structured around a comparison between U.S. and German approaches toward global communication and information flow. (The U.S. and Germany are selected as two industrialized, highly networked countries with significant social differences.) Highlighting specific issues such as taxation, privacy, free speech, and more, this thoughtful volume will be of interest to everyone concerned about the social implications of the global Internet. (December 2001)

Project Scope

Opportunities and risks are twins. There are few who would deny the opportunities provided by global networks in general and the Internet in particular. But many fear the concomitant risks, or what they perceive as risks. Racist speech, pornography, and misuse of personal data rank highest in public awareness. Some concerns are almost universal, such as child pornography. With respect to others there are at least differences of degree. In the light of its history, Germany has actually banned right-wing publications that would be allowed, even if not admired, in the United States. On the other hand, Americans in large numbers deem material pornographic which most Germans would find inoffensive. Privacy is also interpreted in different ways in these two societies. These contrasts lead some to a stark and simplistic assertion: global networks threaten local values. The reality of global networks, and of their interrelation with local values, is much more complex.

Working with a German partner institution (the Max Planck Institute for the Law of Non-Private Goods), the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Research Council (NRC) will convene two international symposia of invited U.S., German, and other experts in telecommunications technology and policy, including academic, industrial, and government leaders, to discuss the tensions between (a) the global expansion of the Internet and other communications networks and services that traverse borders seamlessly and in many ways uncontrollably, and (b) the desires of nations and communities to protect indigenous values through policies that apply within their borders. A steering committee consisting of participants named by the NRC and the German partner institution will oversee invitations to symposium participants and produce a final report that includes guidelines and recommendations for U.S. and German governments to cope with policy issues in this area.

Committee Members

Dr. Kenneth H. Keller (U.S. Chair)
Professor of Science & Technology Policy
Hubert H Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota

Prof. Dr. Christoph Engel (German Chair)
Recht der Gemeinschaftsgüter

Mr. Kenneth Dam (US)
University of Chicago Law School

Dr. Paul A. David (US)
Senior Research Fellow
All Souls College
Oxford University

Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus W. Grewlich (Germany)

Prof. Dr. Bernd Holznagel
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universitaet
Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht

Professor Kenneth Keniston (US)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Henry H. Perritt, Jr. (US)
Dean & Professor of Law
Chicago-Kent College of Law
Illinois Institute of Technology

Papers from First Symposium
Papers from Second Symposium


Herb Lin, Senior Scientist (Study Director)
Marjory S. Blumenthal, Executive Director

Dr. Robert Spinrad (US)

Dr. Raymund Werle (Germany)
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Gesellschaftsforschung

Prof. Dr. Martina Zitterbart (Germany)
Institut fuer Betriebssysteme und Rechnerverbund
TU Braunschweig

German American Academic Council Staff, Deutsch-Amerikanisches Akademisches Konzil
Herrn Dr. Johannes Belz

German Staff, Max-Planck-Projektgruppe
Joachim Dölken

Anja Moosmann (assistant to Prof. Engel)

Dr. Lorenz Müller

Wolf Osthaus (Germany)