But it doesn't adapt as quickly as the Internet. No system of government can. (To the right, Hasbro's "Monopoly man" trademark.)
Markets can. Sort of. Markets have taken advantage of Internet technology to move very quickly in the Internet age. Too quickly. What has happened is an arms race, in which those with the best technology, the classiest algorithms, and the fastest executions skim the cream of every trend.
So liberals and advocates of balance, like me, like the 99%, want controls placed on these markets. Even when those markets exist on the Internet. We want a global system of laws that keeps rich people from running away from their responsibilities, that keeps them from using fast computers to steal from us, that limits leverage and requires that they meet their obligations as we must meet ours.
The problem is that what's good for the wealthy must also be good for the rest of us. If the wealthy are not to be permitted to steal using the Internet, shouldn't we be prohibited from doing the same?
That's what the arguments over SOPA are really about. Advocates of strict Internet regulation point to gangs in Russia and elsewhere, to attacks on our infrastructure from China, and demand the police power needed to run this to ground. They want a law broad enough to let them take action proactively, the moment the crime is detected.
The Internet won't wait for warrants, they argue. The Internet won't wait for due process.
But the same police powers that are eminently reasonable when China is attacking our nuclear power plants are damnable overreach when a movie company decides you're pirating their product, or when a politician decides your criticism should not be heard. The problem for lawmakers is like that faced by school prayer advocates – if it's strong enough to do good it will do harm, and if it's weak enough not to do harm it can't possibly do any good.
Opponents of the law argue that it will be used only against small-timers, only against individuals who are inconveniencing our corporate and political overlords. It's a valid concern.
So here's a solution. There should be free recourse within the law for such people, public recourse. Maybe an “Internet Court” where individuals can sue for damages, where all the documents and arguments are made part of the public record.
I don't like SOPA in its present form. But Internet advocates need to understand that, even in a global network, there must be law, and there must be government. You really can't have freedom without government, only anarchy.
The battle is on to make that government as flexible, and as quick, as the Internet itself, while retaining its accountability and preventing abuses.