The Road to Responsibilities: New Attitudes Towards Internet Intermediaries
Information and Communications Technology Law, October 2019
22 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 3, 2019
New approaches to the legal duties of Internet intermediaries are emerging. Current critiques of technology companies in what is said to be a ‘tech-lash’ overlaps with the proposing of new models of liability and responsibilities. Do these shifts in attitude, and the associated set of new ideas, mean that legislative bodies might be more willing, today, to revisit the balance struck in the late 1990s? Changes and challenges to the general provisions applicable to intermediaries, and the introduction of standalone provisions in specific sectors (such as audiovisual media regulation and copyright) are discussed; emphasis is placed on the proliferation of ‘voluntary’ measures (e.g. on illegal content and on disinformation), which provide evidence of changing attitudes. Further arguments include the overlap between available causes of action in relation to Internet communications (e.g. data protection and harassment law), with implications for jurisdiction, remedies, and other matters, and the attractiveness of alternative approaches, including the cross-cutting control of ‘harmful digital communications’ in New Zealand, and proposals to apply specific regulatory regimes, influenced by financial regulation and other fields, to online material. The UK government’s recent ideas regarding a possible ‘duty of care’ for certain intermediaries assessed in the context of these developments.
Keywords: intermediary liability, copyright, audiovisual media services, social media, freedom of expression
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