Internet Surveillance, Regulation, and Chilling Effects Online: A Comparative Case Study
Internet Policy Review (Forthcoming)
24 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2017 Last revised: 10 Oct 2018
Date Written: May 27, 2017
With internet regulation and censorship on the rise, states increasingly engaging in online surveillance, and state cyber-policing capabilities rapidly evolving globally, concerns about regulatory “chilling effects” online — the idea that laws, regulations, or state surveillance can deter people from exercising their freedoms or engaging in legal activities on the internet have taken on greater urgency and public importance. But just as notions of “chilling effects” are not new, neither is skepticism about their legal, theoretical, and empirical basis; in fact, the concept remains largely un-interrogated with significant gaps in understanding, particularly with respect to chilling effects online. This work helps fill this void with a first-of-its-kind online survey that examines multiple dimensions of chilling effects online by comparing and analyzing responses to hypothetical scenarios involving different kinds of regulatory actions — including an anti-cyberbullying law, public/private sector surveillance, and an online regulatory scheme.
Keywords: Chilling effects, internet, online, government surveillance, corporate surveillance, NSA, privacy, internet regulation, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, online search, online speech, social networks, copyright, DMCA, social computing
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