Is the Internet Considered a Public Space?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thunderbird, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. Thunderbird macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2005
    I am just wondering if the internet is considered a public or private space legally.

    Is the internet considered a form of media, like print or television? If so, does this make the interent a public space, and/or a form of broadcasting? Since people can be sued for libel for what they say on a website, I always thought this implied the internet was considered 'public'.

    I'm particularly interested in the Canadian law on this if there is anyone who knows, as I live in Canada. But I'm also curious how the US government legally views the internet and if it differs.

    Appreciate knowledgable replies.

  2. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    public in most cases as far as I know up to the point of your personal computer/server/hosting. You can elect to open those up to the public, but some cases such as people breaking in to company private access sites are clear violations.
  3. robotmonkey macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2010
    "Public" means that it is payed for by tax payer dollars, so no it is not. It is sustained by private industries. Just because someone can be sued for defamation doesn't mean it is a public good. But no, it is private because individuals pay for their own access to it. IDK how you all up in canada do it... if your government provides you with internet connection, then it can be considered public.
  4. #4
    I would say that it is and it isn't. It depends on how somebody defines public, as there are varying definitions.

    It's not public in that most sites and infrastructure are owned by private companies and individuals. Most people and companies connect to the internet via privately owned ISP's.

    It is public in that anything you write or show on the internet, on pages that can be seen by anybody with an internet connection, can be considered as participating in a public forum, since you are sharing and broadcasting that information with the entire net community, which basically means everybody. So in a way, the internet can be viewed as an electronic public soapbox.

    It's not public in that nobody should take the internet for granted, and the US has the power to shut down most of the internet if it wanted to as most of the backbones and servers are located here.
  5. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    OBJECTIVE reality
    Like the public domain? Public nudity?
  6. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y

    No ranting and raving about the commie liberal slime? :p

    Internet is private space, as far as I can tell. Privately owned and operated. I could very well be wrong though.

    OP: People can be sued for libel in magazines, but magazines are private. If you dont mind me asking, what prompted this question?
  7. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Feb 2, 2009
    Toronto, Ontario
    Your ISP is a private company, anything you do on the internet is in public.
  8. mcrain macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    I think in this context, the question is whether you have an expectation of privacy on the internet, not who funds or owns it.

    When you are at home, or in a hotel room, you have certain expectations that your personal space and your property will not be intruded upon. The question is does anyone have an "expectation" of privacy on the internet. I would suggest that with the number of anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall programs/hardware, most people recognize that the internet is a place where you must protect yourself as others are actively snooping around. If that's the case, then you probably do not have an expectation of privacy, and in fact, actively take steps to protect yourself accordingly.

    A tougher question is whether your activities on the internet and even your computer are private when you have taken appropriate steps to protect yourself. The internet and your activities there are probably still public, but I think the information on your computer would be considered private.

    An interesting parrallel are telephone calls because there, you are using a system where people could snoop, but you do have certain expectations of privacy. (Not to mention wiretapping laws).

    Anyway, just my 2 cents.
  9. Thunderbird thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 25, 2005
    My question was meant in the context of what is considered a public space, open to public view, like the sidewalk, a billboard, a park, the subway, etc.

    For example, in Canada a vehicle parked in a public space (the street) is considered a public space. And therefore having sex or being drunk in a vehicle, for instance, is considered lewd public behaviour and subject to civic by-law ordinances, even though the vehicle is privately owned and the 'interior' of the car might be considered private space.
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I think it depends on how it is located on the internet.

    For example if it requires a password to get access to it then it is private as far as I am concerned and if you hack to get around it then it should and I believe it is against the law. Even if it is piss poor security it still shows that the person does not want the public to have access to it.

    Then you have the type that really has no links to get to it. Only way to get access to a page is to know the exact address which could be full of some random chars and no direct link. like for example (new replay.) It not something people can direct access to and I know the link will not work but it shows you what I mean.

    While some one getting access to it is clearly not something intended to be publish so one should not be able to be sued for liable. It is like leaving a piece of paper on a desk with notes. Any one can come by and read it but it is not something you intended to publish.
    Then there is a website. That is in the public domain and as such one can be held libal. It is fully search able by search engines.
    Then there is a website that you can have access to
  11. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Anything posted on the internet can be found. So it really isn't private. It is not like locking yourself in the bathroom and nobody seeing you.

    Cyberspace is wide open, even if you think you are posting something privately there is a chance that someone you don't want looking will find it.

Share This Page