‘ve been struck by this question a few times, lately.
First there was this article, which I already praised, insisting that the internet is not a separate place, and that activities carried on using the internet are still subject to (in this instance) the tax laws of an actual geographical place.
Then there was this piece from Eric Raymond, insisting that the internet is a place.
Now there is this article by Doc Searls, “How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net down the Tubes”. He points out:
To the carriers and their regulators, the Net isn’t a world, a frontier, a marketplace or a commons. To them, the Net is a collection of pipes.
(in fact, these two are backwards: The esr piece is a reply to the Searls piece. I read them in reverse order).
In the background, there is Lawrence Lessig’s deep and subtle reasoning about the relationships between “cyberspace” and the real world, which I have referred to before.