Web 2.0 Regulation: A Risk Management Process
Canadian Journal of Law & Technology, Vol. 7, p. 243, 2010
23 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2010
Date Written: September 17, 2009
The user’s central role is often presented as a key feature of Web 2.0. The expression “Web 2.0” covers situations that share the characteristic of greater user involvement in online environments. With respect to both law and practical configurations, the Web 2.0 environment can be described as a network. While a number of the functions emblematic of the early Internet have analogous forms in broadcast media, Web 2.0 truly functions as a network. Within the network, professional and amateur users play crucial roles with respect to both content and function. Moreover, they can create risks for others, and this gives them a regulatory capacity.
Like other aspects of the Internet, Web 2.0 is a network composed of normativity nodes and relays. Each node has some ability to impose norms on other interconnected nodes. The ability to impose norms flows principally from the effective capacity to generate risks for others. Thus, regulation of Web 2.0 must take into account the stakes and risks entailed by the main activities associated with it.
On the Internet, regulations are applied in a network and in a networked manner. They are designed in and produced by nodes of Internet normativity: governments, places where technical standards are set, and various stakeholders. The latter inform their partners about the requirements and risks that they have to manage. Seen in this way, regulation of Web 2.0 environments is essentially an ongoing process of taking into account and managing perceived risks concerning search activities. The notion of risk can explain the modulation phenomenon in effective application of national law on the Internet.
In a network, regulators and stakeholders can increase or decrease risk to themselves and others. Technology produces situations that can also increase or decrease risk. The same goes for legislation and other forms of normativity. In cyberspace, stakeholders take into account technical constraints and possibilities as well as the laws that could apply to their activities. These are all seen as risks to be managed. Regulation of Web 2.0 is essentially the result of the risk management strategies of stakeholders and regulators. Strategies are developed in the various normativity nodes, norms are set, and they then generate risks for the targeted stakeholders. The latter have in turn to manage those risks and relay them to other participants in Web 2.0 activities.
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