Rethinking Liability Rules for Online Hosting Platforms

Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn - Universität Mannheim, Discussion Paper Series – CRC TR 224 (2019)

22 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2019

See all articles by Miriam C. Buiten

Miriam C. Buiten

University of Mannheim

Alexandre de Streel

University of Namur

Martin Peitz

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 11, 2019

Abstract

With the growing economic and societal importance of online platforms, the question of their liability for illegal content or products they host becomes more important. Based on an analysis of platforms’ incentives, we address the appropriate liability rule for hosting service providers and derive policy recommendations for an efficient liability regime in the European Union. Online hosting platforms may take monitoring efforts on their own initiative that are suboptimal due to the presence of externalities and asymmetric information problems, warranting some form of liability rules. However, for more fundamental reasons of free speech and preventing censorship, policy makers may want to be cautious in entrusting – and burdening – private parties which such an extensive ‘policing’ role. Additionally, higher monitoring requirements may disproportionally burden small entrants. As we argue, since several actors participate to the diffusion of illegal material online, the responsibility of a safe Internet should be shared among all these actors. Concrete regulatory improvements may encourage online hosting platforms to do their part in monitoring proactively and diligently, such as affirming a good Samaritan clause.

Keywords: online platforms, illegal content, e-commerce, liability rules

JEL Classification: K13, L51

Suggested Citation

Buiten, Miriam C. and de Streel, Alexandre and Peitz, Martin, Rethinking Liability Rules for Online Hosting Platforms (March 11, 2019). Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn - Universität Mannheim, Discussion Paper Series – CRC TR 224 (2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3350693 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3350693

Miriam C. Buiten

University of Mannheim ( email )

Universitaetsbibliothek Mannheim
Zeitschriftenabteilung
Mannheim, 68131
Germany

Alexandre De Streel (Contact Author)

University of Namur ( email )

8 rempart de la vierge
Namur, 5000
Belgium

Martin Peitz

University of Mannheim - Department of Economics ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany
+49 621 181-1835 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://peitz.vwl.uni-mannheim.de/

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