From Information Law to Communication Law: Earthquake Safety for Legal Constructions

March 9, 2011

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From Information Law to Communication Law: Earthquake Safety for Legal Constructions

From Professor Druey's presentation at the Berkman Center, March 9, 2011:

1. Information is an abstract term. It focuses on one aspect of all kinds of interaction, the incorporeal influence of one steering system on another. This was a tremendous change of the 20th century in looking at the world, be it under social, philosophical, biological, ethical or other aspects – even some lawyers have seen the puck! Speaking of the “information age”, one may wonder whether the technological evolution or this new consciousness is the leading feature. They are interconnected, of course.

2. Abstraction is a progress and a danger: It is a condition of all intellectual development, but it furthers one-sided views. The “discovery” of information is a danger for the over-enthusiasm it created. Abstracting from context, information became a value by itself and expected to solve all kinds of problems, from democratic control to psychic wellness. However, information can have a positive or a negative value, depending on the viewpoint and the circumstances. Time has come to re-start the value discussion, to become more modest and to bring context back into the picture.

3. All three of these motives lead to the term of communication. Communication is moving information within a relationship. This simple statement asserts a series of qualities of communication, among others:

- Communication is not a state of mind like information, but a procedure.

- Communication is “born free” by essence, not only made so by law.

- Communication is intrinsically normative, referring to a common culture.

- Communication is personal and exclusively aimed at creating understanding.

- Communication is based on the history shaping the relationship.

4. My points as a jurist are the following: Whereas information is normatively neutral, communication is a value per se, being the realization of sociality. Each contact, from its very nature as an appeal for exchange of thoughts (“inter-action”), is necessarily governed by rules, which constitute a source of order of immense richness. From the respective expectations of participants we get the legal orientation which the lacking conclusiveness of information does not provide, e.g. as to the borderline of openness and confidentiality. Information law is not an attribution of objects, but a procedural order.

5. A field to discuss this is the freedom of media.

Last updated

April 16, 2015