From the University of Colorado’s Silicon Flatirons Program on “Internet Platforms’ Rising Dominance, Evolving Governance”:
- We are living in the era of the internet platform. From Apple’s app store to Google’s search and Chrome browser to Facebook to Amazon to broadband internet access, internet users depend on platforms that both enable and restrict their freedom. As these platforms exercise more influence on culture, commerce, and democracy, there are increasing questions about what forms of governance will oversee decisions on when information should be taken down, when certain applications are disfavored or preferred, and when and how user’s private information is stored and used.
- In light of the rise of internet platforms, different governance strategies have emerged, including the use of “soft law,” best practices, and government nudges. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that with growing importance of these platforms, public policymakers will increase asking questions about their practices and what form of oversight is appropriate (as opposed to no oversight at all). The dominance and power of a few platforms, and their reliance on undisclosed algorithms, raises issues of fairness, transparency, and discrimination.
- In this annual technology policy conference, we will explore emerging forms of governance of platforms, evaluating the appropriate strategies for overseeing internet platforms. Possible models of governance can include traditional legal oversight (say, the notice and takedown regime of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act), the application of antitrust law to internet companies (say, the European Union’s actions against Google), non-traditional forms of regulation (say, NIST’s Framework for cybersecurity or BITAG’s development of best practices), and company-specific governance policies (say, Twitter’s policies for when to take down tweets). In evaluating the range of models of governance and emerging principles for platform regulation, we will bring together leaders in academia, government, and private industry to ask what we have learned about the internet platform-based economy.
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