Wednesday, August 05, 2015

My New Book
Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway

Please forgive me for the self-promotion but may I humbly introduce my new book: Confronting the Internet’s Dark Side is the first book on social responsibility on the Internet. The book aims to strike a balance between the free speech principle and the responsibilities of the individual, corporation, state, and the international community. This book brings a global perspective to the analysis of some of the most troubling uses of the Internet. It urges net users, Internet service providers, and liberal democracies to weigh freedom and security, finding the golden mean between unlimited license and moral responsibility. This judgement is necessary to uphold the very liberal democratic values that gave rise to the Internet and that are threatened by an unbridled use of technology.

book cover  Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway (Washington DC.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 2015).

ISBN 9781107105591

I started researching for this book in 2006. Major part of the research and writing was done during my fabulous year at the Woodrow Wilson Center, the best research center I know. It has been a long and fascinating journey during which I learned a lot. The book is timely and important. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first book on social responsibility on the Internet.

I’d be most grateful if you could spread the word about the book. You can help in various ways:

Please recommend the book for purchase by your library.

Please write about the book in your blog, newspaper, or in any other forum. I’d be happy to grant interviews.

I am also happy to deliver talks about the main ideas of this book. I presented my book in Dartmouth, Krakow, Jerusalem and Oñati and will be happy to present in other forums.

If you are a journal/newspaper editor, or write for a journal/newspaper, please email CUP a review copy request. Cambridge University Press advised me that they will be happy to send a copy to those who pledge to publish book reviews. Please write to:

Mr Morten Høi Jensen
Marketing Associate, Law
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY  10013
(212) 337-5992

About Confronting the Internet's Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway

Against the Free Speech Principle, no less important considerations of the social responsibility at the individual, corporate, and nation-state level need to be weighed. The book brings an international perspective to the analysis of what the author considers to be the most troubling uses of the Internet: terrorism, child pornography, hate speech, cybercrime and cyberbullying. The book urges Netusers, ISPs and liberal democracies to strike a balance between freedom and security, unlimited license and moral responsibility. It argues that this kind of judgment is necessary to uphold the very liberal democratic values that gave rise to the Internet itself and that may be threatened by an unbridled use of this technology.


It is widely recognized that the dramatic growth of internet technologies are creating a new era in democratic life, a crisis for the established media and possibilities for participatory politics that challenge liberal institutions.  The book documents this turning point with urgency and clarity, and in the process makes the need transparent for analyses of this subject.  Ithiel de Sola Poole’s Technologies of Freedom (1983 Harvard) has become a classic work defining the information society, with information technology its axis.  I consider Confronting the Internet's Dark Side of that quality, as a potential classic that defines for us moral responsibility in the new media age.

Clifford Christians, University of Illinois, Research Professor of Communications

In this book Raphael Cohen-Almagor makes a forceful case for greater social responsibility on the part of Internet service providers and all who surf the Web.  Calling on us to think and act like citizens of the online world, he insists that we have a moral obligation to confront those who abuse the technology by using it to disseminate hate propaganda and child pornography, or by engaging in cyber-bullying, or by aiding and abetting terrorism.  Fast paced, philosophically sophisticated, and filled with illustrative and sometimes heart-wrenching examples, the book is intended to serve as a wake-up call and will challenge its readers to reconsider their views of free expression in the Internet age.   

Professor Stephen L. Newman, Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto

In Internet`s Way is an exceptionally timely and important contribution in response to a public policy predicament. Without evading its controversial aspects, it confronts the many difficult issues that the misuse and abuse of the Internet have precipitated onto the public domain. It does so in a comparative, cross-national manner, well calculated to enlighten, exemplified by telling case studies. These starkly demonstrate the tragic consequences of governmental slowness to act on the lessons from a rapidly escalating and pervasive technological innovation. 

Jack Hayward, Emeritus Professor of Politics, Oxford University, Research Professor of Politics,  University of Hull.

Cohen-Almagor recognizes that if social responsibility on the Internet is to be implemented, ways will need to be discussed as to how one can draw limits to what one does on the internet as well as what ISP’s and countries can do with the internet. Not everyone will agree with the solutions proposed, but in light of the detailed stories concerning hate sites (towards groups or humanity in general), webcam viewing of actual suicides, the exponential growth of child pornography, etc., it is hard to fall back on knee jerk First Amendment responses.

Professor Robert Cavalier, Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University