The Future of Online Content Personalisation: Technology, Law and Digital Freedoms
University of Zurich, i-call Working Paper Series No. 2016/01
24 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2016 Last revised: 30 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 3, 2016
As online information is increasingly tailored, or “personalised”, to the user, it has been praised by some as a pragmatic response to information overload, while criticised by others as creating an echo chamber that threatens deliberative democracy. The unsettling question is whether the latest wave of innovation in online content personalisation technologies has shifted decision-making power from humans to computers. The paper argues that a thorough understanding of personalisation technologies is necessary to critically evaluate their normative effect and impact on social values. It reflects on the differences between regulation by code and regulation by law, exploring how code affects individual and social autonomies, and considering whether meta-rules regulating code are appropriate. The aim of this paper is to detail the constitutive features of the digital world and elucidate how these create norms that regulate the Internet.
Keywords: Tracking, personalisation, algorithms, echo chambers, transnational legal theory, dispositive, regulation by code, societal constitutionalism.
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