I was very disappointed with this book after seeing all of the high reviews here, and reading the description for the book. I thought I was going to be reading an in-depth analysis of the technical, legal, and political means by which governments control, censor, and surveil the Internet, what the sociopolitical effects of this are, and how people around the world are resisting invasion of privacy and deprivation of autonomy.
Instead, I discovered that it was actually a poorly reasoned apology for government surveillance, censorship, and control of the Internet. Bringing out those trusty old substitutes for rational analysis and debate -- child porn, Nazi hate speech, and computer fraudsters -- Wu and Goldsmith repeatedly attempt to show us how grateful we should be for our governments "protecting" us from "villains", and how we were all so "naive" for thinking that we wanted to be able to have a democratic, uncensored electronic communications medium, and how silly we were for thinking that we would actually be allowed to have one.
They discuss issues within inane framings such as "uninhibited debate vs. order", and talk about how it's great that governments are censoring and monitoring the public, because that's what people need to keep them safe from all of those Nazis and child pornographers. They of course, superficially touch upon the Chinese surveillance state, and how in *extreme* and *rare* situations like China, government surveillance, censorship, and control might *possibly* lead to political repression -- but other than that, they keep on the velvet gloves, hardly discussing government violations of liberty and privacy, and not touching at all upon the extensive surveillance apparatus in the United States or Great Britain. They're too busy scaring us with stories that are supposed to let us know how good all of this is, to honestly cover the reasons that people oppose these sorts of government activities
Instead of hearing WHY people are so "caught up" in these "naive" quest for the ability to have private, uncensored communications, we have over 1/3 of the book informing us that these programs are a "necessary evil", and how anyone who criticizes them is just a naive, ethnocentric "libertarian" who doesn't understand that they can't go around pushing the "uniquely American values" of free speech and privacy on other cultures who don't want them. They both under- and mis-represent the views of people who defend privacy and autonomy, and make them out to be a bunch of naive, overly-optimistic, idealists who have such an innocent, childish view of the world that they, in their quest after silly abstractions like political freedom, have overlooked all of those "public goods" like libel law and police repression that maintain that comfortable "order" (comfortable, that is, if you are an Ivy League professor who gets to experience the friendly side of it, instead of a Chinese torture chamber) that is threatened by "uninhibited debate" (like people being able to openly discuss corporate crimes without being hit with a SLAPP lawsuit for violating the libel/slander laws that the authors are so vigorously promoting).
They "prove" through the example of fraud on E-Bay, that people need government to protect them from fraud, conveniently ignoring the fact that the market system that those same governments were designed to protect are the sole reason that the fraudsters exist in the first place (if there was no money or economic inequality/injustice, what exactly would a fraudster *do*?).
And besides all of that, even as an apology for totalitarianism and nationalism, it was still poorly put together. The book has extremely low information density, and is very poorly reasoned. Even if you agree with them that governments should tightly control and monitor the Internet, you still won't learn much -- most of the book is irrelevant fluff. Their view of how governments "work" is very simplistic -- reminiscent of a high-school civics/government class. Seeing that the authors are law professors at Ivy League universities merely reaffirms Noam Chomsky's statement that many of the people in universities these days are not really "intellectuals", but in fact "a kind of secular priesthood, whose task it is to uphold the doctrinal truths of this society."
Don't waste your time, money, or energy.