Emerging regulation: market structure, content, data and consumer/users rights regulation


Recent years have seen increased discussions on regulating many aspects of the Internet, be it in the form of national and international regulations by governments and intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), or private sector-led self-regulation and co-regulation initiatives. At least four areas stand out within this trend. First, there are ongoing regulatory efforts to address anticompetitive practices and monopolistic behaviour by large tech companies, prevent excessive concentrated market structures, and ensure a more pluralistic and level-playing field between large and small market players. Second, various jurisdictions are discussing whether new regulations are needed to clarify the liability of Internet intermediaries with regard to the content they host, as well as their role and responsibilities in tackling issues such as online misinformation/disinformation and the spread of violent content and hate speech. Related to this is the issue of minimum standards that Internet platforms should embrace in their content moderation policies to ensure alignment with human rights frameworks (in particular with respect to freedom of expression), and the role of governments in influencing private sector policies in this area. Concerns about the transparency and coordination of content moderation decisions need to be at the center of the debate to prevent capture by powerful actors, and to ensure these decisions are transparent, and accountable.Third, discussions continue on multiple data governance related issues, including (a) how data governance frameworks could enable the responsible and trustworthy use of personal and non-personal data; (b) what transparency standards need to be put in place when it comes to personal data processing; and (c) how privacy rights and protections are interpreted and imposed, or not, within and beyond national borders. Additionally, the issue of cross-border data flows remains high on the international agenda, as countries have different approaches towards the extent and the conditions under which they enable data transfers or require data localisation. At the same time, there are calls for unified data governance frameworks that enable rights respecting data flows. Fourth, there is an increasing interest to enhance consumer protection regulations in order to foster a more balanced relationship between users and Internet companies, provide meaningful remedy for individuals whose rights have been violated, and avoid unfair and deceptive commercial practices, while also building consumer awareness around issues such as tracking and targeted advertising. 

Policy questions

  • Regulation, competition and innovation: How could regulatory and self-regulatory frameworks help foster more competitive Internet-related markets, a larger diversity of business models, and more innovation? How to enable equitable access to data, marketplaces or infrastructures for fostering competition and innovation on the Internet?
  • Content moderation and human rights compliance: How to ensure that government regulation, self-regulation and co-regulation approaches to content moderation are compliant with human rights frameworks, are transparent and accountable, and enable a safe, united and inclusive Internet?
  • Data governance and trust, globally and locally: What is needed to ensure that existing and future national and international data governance frameworks are effective in mandating the responsible and trustworthy use of data, with respect for privacy and other human rights?
  • Data transfers, trade, cooperation and trust: What is the role of local and international norms and principles in facilitating trustworthy international data transfers for trade and cooperation?
  • Protecting consumer rights: What regulatory approaches are/could be effective in upholding consumer rights, offering adequate remedies for rights violations, and eliminating unfair and deceptive practices from the part of Internet companies?

Related issues

  • Antitrust, anticompetitive practices, monopolistic behaviour, competition, big tech, concentrated market structures, remedies, network effects, vertical integration, merger control, digital advertisement, platform economy, surveillance economy, innovation, data concentration, centralisation of infrastructure, decentralisation, data trusts, data commons, interoperability, intermediaries liability regimes, media policy, content policy, content moderation, data localisation, lawful access, misinformation/disinformation, violent content, hate speech, freedom of expression, upload filters, privacy, data governance, self-regulation, co-regulation, cross-border data transfer, data flows, extraterritorial rules, targeted advertising, algorithmic transparency, automated decision making, profiling, user tracking, meaningful consent, dark patterns, consumer awareness, consumer rights, quality of service, remedy for abuse