Jonathan L. Zittrain

George Bemis Professor of International Law

Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources

Faculty Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society

Professor of Computer Science, Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Professor, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government

Biography

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of International Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Director of the Harvard Law School Library, and Faculty Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.  His research interests include battles for control of digital property and content, cryptography, electronic privacy, the roles of intermediaries within Internet architecture, human computing, and the useful and unobtrusive deployment of technology in education.  

He performed the first large-scale tests of Internet filtering in China and Saudi Arabia, and as part of the OpenNet Initiative co-edited a series of studies of Internet filtering by national governments: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering; Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace; and Access Contested: Security, Identity, and Resistance in Asian Cyberpace.  

He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Board of Advisors for Scientific American.  He has served as a Trustee of the Internet Society, and as a Forum Fellow of the World Economic Forum, which named him a Young Global Leader, and as Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Federal Communications Commission, where he previously chaired the Open Internet Advisory Committee. His book The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It is available from Yale University Press and Penguin UK -- and under a Creative Commons license.  Papers may be found at <http://www.jz.org>.

Areas of Interest

Jonathan L. Zittrain, David O'Brien, Matt Olsen, Bruce Schneier & the Berklett Working Group, Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the “Going Dark” Debate (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2016-1, Feb. 1, 2016).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
,
Communications Law
Type: Other
Abstract
This report from the Berkman Center's Berklett Cybersecurity Project offers a new perspective on the "going dark" debate from the discussion, debate, and analyses of an unprecedentedly diverse group of security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community. The Berklett group took up some of the questions of surveillance and encryption as some companies are encrypting services by default, making their customers' messages accessible only to the customers themselves. The report outlines how market forces and commercial interest as the increasing prevalence of networked sensors in machines and appliances point to a future with more opportunities for surveillance, not less.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Engineering an Election, 127 Harv. L. Rev. F. 335 (2014).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Elections & Voting
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Jonathan L. Zittrain, The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It (Yale Univ. Press & Penguin UK 2008).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
Type: Book
Abstract
This extraordinary book explains the engine that has catapulted the Internet from backwater to ubiquity—and reveals that it is sputtering precisely because of its runaway success. With the unwitting help of its users, the generative Internet is on a path to a lockdown, ending its cycle of innovation—and facilitating unsettling new kinds of control. IPods, iPhones, Xboxes, and TiVos represent the first wave of Internet-centered products that can’t be easily modified by anyone except their vendors or selected partners. These “tethered appliances” have already been used in remarkable but little-known ways: car GPS systems have been reconfigured at the demand of law enforcement to eavesdrop on the occupants at all times, and digital video recorders have been ordered to self-destruct thanks to a lawsuit against the manufacturer thousands of miles away. New Web 2.0 platforms like Google mash-ups and Facebook are rightly touted—but their applications can be similarly monitored and eliminated from a central source. As tethered appliances and applications eclipse the PC, the very nature of the Internet—its “generativity,” or innovative character—is at risk. The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation, Zittrain argues, lies in the hands of its millions of users. Drawing on generative technologies like Wikipedia that have so far survived their own successes, this book shows how to develop new technologies and social structures that allow users to work creatively and collaboratively, participate in solutions, and become true “netizens.”
Matthew G. Olsen, Bruce Schneier & Jonathan L. Zittrain, Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the “Going Dark” Debate (Berkman Ctr. Res. Pub. No. 2016-1, Feb. 1, 2016).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Other
Marcus Comiter, Ben Sobel & Jonathan Zittrain, Algorithmic Allegories (version 1.0) (Harvard Law Sch. Case Studies 2015).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Legal Ethics
,
Science & Technology
,
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Other
Abstract
June 2014 saw a media uproar about Facebook's emotional contagion study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In conjunction with researchers at Cornell, Facebook designed an experiment which altered the Facebook News Feed to explore if emotions can spread through Facebook. These feeds, the primary activity and content list on Facebook, are populated according to a proprietary algorithm. In the experiment, the algorithms for a random subset of users were manipulated to display either proportionately more negative emotional content or proportionately more emotional content; a control group saw content according to the current algorithm. This study met vocal opposition not solely for manipulating the moods of Facebook users, but also because users neither volunteered nor opted in to such research, and were not informed of their participation in the study. This study is a motivating example of the moral, legal, and technical questions raised when algorithms permeate society. This case explains the parameters of the experiment, the reaction in the media, and the legal issues introduced (including Federal Trade Commission standards for commercial practices and the US Department of Health and Human Services Policy for the Protection of Human Research Subjects, informally known as the "Common Rule"). In order to encourage examining the issues presented by algorithms in a number of different scenarios, the case uses six hypothetical situations that encourage participants to ponder the use of algorithms in different mediums, including their use with print media, charity, and business, among others. These hypothetical scenarios present varying aspects of the expanding role algorithms play, and will elicit more meaningful discussion and force participants to address through nuanced arguments the complicated issues surrounding algorithms. After briefing analyzing and debating all six scenarios, participants will delve deeper into one hypothetical, using their position on a hypothetical issue to inform their stance on the Facebook Emotional Contagion study. The exercise concludes with a class-wide debate of the ethics surrounding the Facebook Emotional Contagion study.
Urs Gasser, Jonathan Zittrain, Robert Faris & Rebekah Heacock Jones, Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World: Platforms, Policy, Privacy, and Public Discourse (Berkman Ctr. Research Publ'n No. 2014-17, Dec. 17, 2014).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Other
Abstract
This publication is the second annual report of the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Centerfor Internet & Society at Harvard University. As with the inaugural report, this year’s edition is a collaborative effort of the extended Berkman community. Internet Monitor 2014: Reflections on the Digital World includes nearly three dozen contributions from friends and colleagues around the world that highlight and discuss some of the most compelling events and trends in the digitally networked environment over the past year. The result, intended for a general interest audience, brings together reflection and analysis on a broad range of issues and regions — from an examination of Europe’s “right to be forgotten” to a review of the current state of mobile security to an exploration of a new wave of movements attempting to counter hate speech online — and offers it up for debate and discussion. Our goal remains not to provide a definitive assessment of the “state of the Internet” but rather to provide a rich compendium of commentary on the year’s developments with respect to the online space. Last year’s report examined the dynamics of Internet controls and online activity through the actions of government, corporations, and civil society. We focus this year on the interplay between technological platforms and policy; growing tensions between protecting personal privacy and using big data for social good; the implications of digital communications tools for public discourse and collective action; and current debates around the future of Internet governance. The report reflects the diversity of ideas and input the Internet Monitor project seeks to invite. Some of the contributions are descriptive; others prescriptive. Some contain purely factual observations; others offer personal opinion. In addition to those in traditional essay format, contributions this year include a speculative fiction story exploring what our increasingly data-driven world might bring, a selection of “visual thinking” illustrations that accompany a number of essays, a “Year in Review” timeline that highlights many of the year’s most fascinating Internet-related news stories (and an interactive version of which is available at the netmonitor.org), and a slightly tongue-in-cheek “By the Numbers” section that offers a look at the year’s important digital statistics. We believe that each contribution offers insights, and hope they provoke further reflection, conversation, and debate in both offline and online settings around the globe.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Reflections on Internet Culture, 13 J. Visual Culture 388 (2014).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
In these edited remarks originally given at ROFLCon in May 2012, Jonathan Zittrain muses on the nature of memes and their relationships to their creators as well as to broader culture and to politics. The distributed environment of the internet allows memes to morph and become distanced from their original intentions. As meme culture becomes more and more assimilated into popular culture, subcultures like those of Reddit or 4chan have begun to re-conceptualize their own role from just meme propagators to cultural producers. Memes can gain commercial appeal, much to the chagrin of their creators. More strangely, memes can gain political traction and affiliation, like American conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s ‘You can‘t explain that’ or Anonymous’ ‘Low Orbit Ion Cannon’. Can meme culture survive becoming not just the property of geeks and nerds, but part of the commercial and political world?
Jonathan L. Zittrain, The Case for Kill Switches in Military Weaponry, Sci. Am., Nov. 2014, at 14.
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Science & Technology
Type: Article
Abstract
In this article the author discusses aspects of smart technology that might have disarmed the insurgent group in Iraq, the Islamic State (ISIS), without bombs or bullets. Topics include remotely disabling weaponry with a kill switch similar to one on the iPhone, which resulted in reduced iPhone thefts, examples of fail-safe mechanisms that could be built using basic signature-and-authentication technologies, and the implications of a failed kill-switch strategy.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Why Libraries [Still] Matter, Medium (Sept. 10, 2014).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Information Commons
Type: Other
Jonathan Zittrain, The Right to be Forgotten Ruling Leaves Nagging Doubts, Fin. Times, July 13, 2014.
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: News
Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert & Lawrence Lessig, Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations, 14 Legal Information Mgmt. 88 (2014).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Commons
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
It has become increasingly common for a reader to follow a URL cited in a court opinion or a law review article, only to be met with an error message because the resource has been moved from its original online address. This form of reference rot, commonly referred to as ‘linkrot’, has arisen from the disconnect between the transience of online materials and the permanence of legal citation, and will only become more prevalent as scholarly materials move online. The present paper, written by Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert and Lawrence Lessig, explores the pervasiveness of linkrot in academic and legal citations, finding that more than 70% of the URLs within the Harvard Law Review and other journals, and 50% of the URLs within United States Supreme Court opinions, do not link to the originally cited information. In light of these results, a solution is proposed for authors and editors of new scholarship that involves libraries undertaking the distributed, long-term preservation of link contents.
Jonathan Zittrain, Opinion, Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’, N.Y. Times, May 15, 2014, at A29.
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: News
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Perfect Enforcement on Tomorrow's Internet, in Regulating Technologies: Legal Futures, Regulatory Frames and Technological Fixes (Roger Brownsword & Karen Yeung eds., 2008).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
Type: Book
Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering (Ronald Deibert, John G. Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski & Jonathan L. Zittrain eds., MIT Press 2008).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Book
Abstract
Access Denied documents and analyzes Internet filtering practices in more than three dozen countries, offering the first rigorously conducted study of an accelerating trend.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, A History of Online Gatekeeping, 19 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 253 (2006).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Derek E. Bambauer, Ronald J. Deibert, John F. Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Nart Villeneuve & Jonathan L. Zittrain, Internet Filtering in China in 2004-2005: A Country Study (Apr. 15, 2005).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
Type: Article
Abstract
China's Internet filtering regime is the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world. Compared to similar efforts in other states, China's filtering regime is pervasive, sophisticated, and effective. It comprises multiple levels of legal regulation and technical control. It involves numerous state agencies and thousands of public and private personnel. It censors content transmitted through multiple methods, including Web pages, Web logs, on-line discussion forums, university bulletin board systems, and e-mail messages. Our testing found efforts to prevent access to a wide range of sensitive materials, from pornography to religious material to political dissent. We sought to determine the degree to which China filters sites on topics that the Chinese government finds sensitive, and found that the state does so extensively. Chinese citizens seeking access to Web sites containing content related to Taiwanese and Tibetan independence, Falun Gong, the Dalai Lama, the Tiananmen Square incident, opposition political parties, or a variety of anti-Communist movements will frequently find themselves blocked. Contrary to anecdote, we found that most major American media sites, such as CNN, MSNBC, and ABC, are generally available in China (though the BBC remains blocked). Moreover, most sites we tested in our global list's human rights and anonymizer categories are accessible as well. While it is difficult to describe this widespread filtering with precision, our research documents a system that imposes strong controls on its citizens' ability to view and to publish Internet content. This report was produced by the OpenNet Initiative, a partnership among the Advanced Network Research Group, Cambridge Security Programme at Cambridge University, the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Normative Principles for the Evaluation of Free and Proprietary Software, 71 U. Chi. L. Rev. 265 (2004).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Article
Abstract
The production of most mass-market software can be grouped roughly according to free and proprietary development models. These models differ greatly from one another, and their associated licenses tend to insist that new software inherit the characteristics of older software from which it may be derived. Thus the success of one model or another can become self-perpetuating, as older free software is incorporated into later free software and proprietary software is embedded within successive proprietary versions. The competition between the two models is fierce, and the battle between them is no longer simply confined to the market. Claims of improper use of proprietary code within the free GNU/Linux operating system have resulted in multi-billion dollar litigation. This article explains the ways in which free and proprietary software are at odds, and offers a framework by which to assess their value - a prerequisite to determining the extent to which the legal system should take more than a passing, mechanical interest in the doctrinal claims now being pressed against GNU/Linux specifically and free software generally.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, The Torts Game: Defending Mean Joe Greene (Aspen Publ'g 2004).
Categories:
Civil Practice & Procedure
Sub-Categories:
Torts
Type: Book
Abstract
Use this short secondary text with any torts casebook to give your students a demonstration of the practical dimensions to tort law alongside the doctrine they are already learning.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Be Careful What You Ask For: Reconciling a Global Internet and Local Law, in Who Rules the Net? Internet Governance and Jurisdiction (Adam Thierer & Wayne Crews eds., Cato Institute 2003).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
Type: Book
Abstract
This book considers the threats to free speech and online commerce posed by international government attempting to impose such territorial statutes and standards within cyberspace.
Jonathan L. Zittrain, Internet Points of Control, 44 B.C. L. Rev. 653 (2003).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Article
Jonathan L. Zittrain, The Role of Scientific and Technical Data and Information in the Public Domain: New Legal Approaches in the Private Sector, in The Role of Scientific and Technical Data and Information in the Public Domain: Proceedings of a Symposium 169 (Nat'l Res. Council, Nat'l Acad. Sci. 2003).
Categories:
Technology & Law
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Information Commons
,
Science & Technology
Type: Book
Abstract
The first session focused on the role, value, and limits of scientific and technical data and information in the public domain. This was followed in the second session by an overview of the pressures on the public domain.
Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan L. Zittrain, Charles R. Nesson, William F. Fisher & Yochai Benkler, Internet Law (Found. Press 2002).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Cyberlaw
Type: Book
Jonathan L. Zittrain, ICANN: Between the Public and the Private, in The Best in E-Commerce Law (Warren Agin ed., 2001).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Networked Society
,
Cyberlaw
Type: Book
Jonathan L. Zittrain, What the Publisher Can Teach the Patient: Intellectual Property and Privacy in an Era of Trusted Privication, 52 Stan. L. Rev. 1201 (2000).
Categories:
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Communications Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
,
Medical Technology
Type: Article

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