Code is just text—until it determines how the citizen’s lives are framed. The code then becomes law.
Lawyer Lawrence Lessig writes in his 2000 short essay Code is Law: On Liberty in Cyberspace (with ideas from his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace published a year before):
The code regulates. It implements values, or not. It enables freedoms, or disables them. It protects privacy, or promotes monitoring. People choose how the code does these things. People write the code. Thus the choice is not whether people will decide how cyberspace regulates. People—coders—will.
Code does not write by itself.
Are the institutions designated for writing laws missing the boat on digital urbanities?
The law of cyberspace will be how cyberspace codes it, but we will have lost our role in setting that law.