Internet & Society Class 2017

The Technologies and Politics of Control
Co-taught by Jonathan Zittrain and Joi Ito

This course was part of the 2017 Assembly program. It was co-taught by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center, and Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab.

This class offers a rigorous introduction to the field of cyberlaw and gives participants a sense of the historical battles of the Internet, what different actors were thinking, what they were trying to accomplish, and what levers they pulled in order to select for specific outcomes.

Internet & Society: The Technologies and Politics of Control

Course themes include the complex interaction between Internet governance organizations and sovereign states, the search for balance between the ease of disseminating information online and the interest of copyright holders, privacy advocates, and others in controlling that dissemination, and the roles of intermediaries and platforms in shaping what people can and cannot do online. The course will include an array of learning and teaching methods. Students will be expected to participate in a variety of activities.

Download a PDF version of the 2017 full class syllabus (including readings) here.

Class Topics

Day 1 Introduction, Right to Be Forgotten and Jurisdiction
Day 2 Copyright, DRM debate between Professor Ito and Professor Zittrain
Day 3 Cryptocurrency
Day 4 Private Infrastructures for Government Surveillance
Guest Lecturers: Bruce Schneier and John DeLong
Day 5 Net Neutrality and Internet Architecture
Dialogue with Andy Ellis
Day 6 Weaponized Social
Day 7 Free vs. Proprietary Code and Content
Dialogue with David Clark
Day 8 Governance, Artificial Intelligence
Day 9 Conclusion


Assembly is a project run out of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab. The project is part of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to get in touch, please email us at