This article considers and assesses pseudo-public spaces, considering both physical and non-physical spaces. Presenting perspectives from law, geography, architecture and communication studies, it is argued that there are links between the conditions pertaining to shopping centres, redeveloped city centres, Internet service providers and websites. Particular attention is paid to unfulfilled claims regarding the promise of new spaces, or inconsistencies as between the form and substance of a given space. The owners of pseudo-public physical spaces use legal tools such as the right to exclude from private property, while the owners of pseudo-public virtual spaces often base the relationship with a user on contractual agreements; in both cases, concepts of fundamental rights are also affected, if not often vindicated. The consequences of these approaches are assessed, drawing on critical legal geography and the history of ‘common carriers’ and other forms of regulation.