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20 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 1 (2011)

handle is hein.journals/infctel20 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communications Technology Law                        Routledge
Vol. 20, No. 1, March 2011, 1-2                                    Taylor&Francis Group
Law, technology and society: the real consequences of a metaphorical
Mark O'Brien*
Bristol Law School, University of the West of England, UK
One of the pervasive themes of cyberlaw and cyber society scholarship in recent years
has been exploration of the consequences of cyber-activities in the real world. Often
key to this concept of 'cyberworld' vs 'real' world activities (and also the blurred
distinctions between the two) has been an at least tacit acceptance of the 'cyberspace
is place' metaphor (Hunter, 2002; Rowland, 2006), whereby the 'No Man's Land' of
electronic communication via the Internet has come to be regarded, via a general
acquiescence to the use of spatial metaphorical devices (Rowland, 2006), as simply
another type of space in the 'real world', with, Hunter argues, the metaphor of
'cyberspace as place' exercising a consequent 'strong, and unrecognized, influence'
on the development and the 'regulatory regimes of cyberspace'.
This special issue of Information and Communications Law, including articles
derived from the Information Technology Law and Cyberspace stream of the 2010
Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference hosted by Bristol Law School,
University of the West of England, explores some of the wider 'real world'
implications of interaction with a technological 'virtual world'.
In 'What happens online stays online? Virtual punishment in the real world',
Brian Simpson examines the question of whether or not certain types of online or
'virtual' activity can or should have consequences (including legal consequences) in
the real world, and in so doing, explores the argument that those who commit virtual
misdemeanours could be the subject of forms of punishment in the virtual world.
Simpson also examines the important issue of the policing of the increased
externalisation of fantasy afforded by the advent of technology, and the increased
possibility of punishment of one's 'innermost thoughts ... placed in the public
domain of the Internet'. He contends that such externalisation of fantasy in the
virtual environment may not be justification for legal sanction against such thoughts,
and explores notions of virtual punishment, drawing parallels with the 'internal
disciplinary mechanisms' of sporting bodies.
Jackie Jones's article, 'Trafficking Internet brides', explores the manifestation of
new and extreme types of consumerism afforded by the development of the Internet
and focuses upon the issue of 'mail order' brides. Jones explores the historical
backdrop of the issue, examining the transportation of women to be brides in the
colonies, examines modern manifestations of this practice including international
*Email: Mark.O'Brien a uwe.ac.uk
ISSN 1360-0834 print/ISSN 1469-8404 online
0 2011 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13600834.2011.557491

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