From Editorial Obligation to Procedural Accountability: New Policy Approaches to Online Content in the Era of Information Intermediaries

Final version published in Journal of Cyber Policy, 3:2, 165-186, DOI: 10.1080/23738871.2018.1519030

19 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2018 Last revised: 30 Oct 2018

See all articles by Mark Bunting

Mark Bunting

Oxford Internet Institute; Communications Chambers

Date Written: May 25, 2018

Abstract

**This is an early working version of a paper subsequently revised and published in Journal of Cyber Policy 3(2) at doi: 10.1080/23738871.2018.1519030 **

Like all markets, online platforms need rules. Their rules are both written, in the form of community standards, terms of use, commercial contracts and policies, and unwritten, in the code that shapes their interfaces and the algorithms that bring market participants together.

When online information intermediaries govern the exchange of news, content and speech, their rules (in this broad Lessigian sense) can raise profound issues of social welfare, cybersecurity and human rights. Information intermediaries are not publishers, but their role in facilitating content discovery means their rules have inevitable ethical implications; they are not merely neutral conduits.

The past two years has seen heated debate about intermediaries’ responsibilities with respect to online content. Commentators have alleged that in a wide range of areas, intermediaries’ commercial incentives are insufficient to address harmful or illegal content, and that regulation is required.

Arguments for content regulation need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and this paper does not seek to give a general view on the desirability of regulation. However, given that tensions between private market governance and law are inevitable, and will continue to raise issues of public interest, it is important to consider possible regulatory strategies; that is the purpose of this paper.

Keywords: internet governance, online intermediaries, intermediary liability, safe harbours, online platforms, free speech, hate speech, internet safety, copyright, procedural accountability, digital charter, content regulation

JEL Classification: K2, H32

Suggested Citation

Bunting, Mark, From Editorial Obligation to Procedural Accountability: New Policy Approaches to Online Content in the Era of Information Intermediaries (May 25, 2018). Final version published in Journal of Cyber Policy, 3:2, 165-186, DOI: 10.1080/23738871.2018.1519030, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3185005 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3185005

Mark Bunting (Contact Author)

Oxford Internet Institute ( email )

36 Outram Road
London, N22 7AF
United Kingdom

Communications Chambers ( email )

3 Oakthorpe Road
Oxford, OX2 7BD
United Kingdom

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