New ISP White Paper Collection Discusses a Healthy Digital Public Sphere


Today, the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School launched A Healthy Digital Public Sphere, a collection of four essays examining the legal and sociotechnical mechanisms that influence the health of the digital public sphere. This is the second collection of the ISP’s Digital Public Sphere white paper series. 

The new collection of essays addresses a range of issues that afflict the digital public sphere as well as potential solutions. 

“Maintaining a healthy and vibrant digital public sphere,” explained ISP Director and Founder Jack Balkin, “is one of the most urgent policy problems of our era.” 

“We are very excited to bring together scholars in law and science and technology studies for this collection,” said series editors Elettra Bietti, Sebastián Guidi and Adam Posluns. “These essays help us understand how the mutual influences of law, technology and socio-economic relations contribute to the health and pathologies of the digital public sphere.”

Jasmine E. McNealy writes about the dangers of predictive sonic surveillance and argues for conditions of audibility that respect individual and community autonomy. Mike Ananny suggests that algorithmic mistakes are not merely technical and should be understood and addressed as public problems. Exploring the global effects of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Anupam Chander points out that this section’s norms have helped shape global discourse. Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci and Ethan Zuckerman envision a new system of “forgetful advertising” as a digital public infrastructure and alternative to the surveillant advertising that dominates the digital ad ecosystem.

The essays were commissioned and published in collaboration with the Yale Journal of Law and Technology (YJoLT). “YJoLT and ISP have had a long-running, fruitful collaboration as YLS's two key centers of thought on law and technology,” said Emile Shehada ’22. “This Collection advances that shared mission.”

The Knight Foundation is also a series partner.

“These new papers underscore Yale ISP’s important role today as a leading venue for the rigorous exploration of the most consequential and vexing challenging in our digital world,” said John Sands, Senior Director of Media & Democracy at Knight Foundation. “Knight is delighted by this ongoing partnership and the significant research and insight it continues to catalyze.”

ISP Executive Directors Chinmayi Arun and Nikolas Guggenberger said: “This series draws on carefully selected law and technology scholars to publish generative ideas that we hope will spur a better understanding of digital discourse. We are grateful to the Knight Foundation, the editors, and YJoLT for all the support and work that made this possible.”

The Information Society Project is an intellectual center at Yale Law School. It supports a community of interdisciplinary scholars who explore issues at the intersection of law, technology, and society.