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Conference Papers Year : 2016

The role of Intermediaries in Internet Regulation and Policy


When considering some of the broader human rights implications of internet-related policies, despite their differences in character, context and content, a shift appears in how human rights are envisaged and debated, from the traditional focus on state obligations and state enforcement (hard law) to an increasing involvement and call upon private companies to play a role in the realization and protection of specific human rights (e.g. through charity actions, participation in soft law development, and through codes of conducts and other corporate social responsibility initiatives). Likewise, private actors increasingly refer to human rights when framing specific initiatives or interests, often with limited reflection on human rights as a set of international legal norms, with inherent zones of conflicts (e.g. protection of individuals against abuse of power, commitments to certain standards in society). This shift in the human rights discourse from state obligations to corporate initiatives seems to reflect the nature of the online environment with private actors in control of core infrastructure and services, yet it is extending and its implications for the protection of individuals is troublesome. This paper critically analyses examples of European policies regulating the role of internet intermediaries, including in areas such as content regulation, privacy and data protection, copyright, and telecommunication infrastructure. It formulates and explores the hypothesis that the observed shift is constructed and maintained mainly through procedural transformations of existing legislation and regulation, with still greater emphasis on co- and self-regulatory regimes. Moreover, it argues that the observed shift is closely related to the governance structure of the digital domain; with new zones of conflict and new areas of convergence between the state and private actors.
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hal-01300342 , version 1 (10-04-2016)


  • HAL Id : hal-01300342 , version 1


Rikke Frank Joergensen, Meryem Marzouki. The role of Intermediaries in Internet Regulation and Policy : From Constrained Agents of the State to Gatekeepers of their Own Turf . The 6th ECPR Standing Group on Regulatory Governance Biennial Conference , Jul 2016, Tilburg, Netherlands. ⟨hal-01300342⟩
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