JJUA55286U Internet Governance & Platform Regulation

Volume 2021/2022
Content

In this course we take a close look at the regulatory landscape of the internet. It concentrates on the regulatory field called “Internet Governance”, which is often defined loosely as the various sets of norms (legal and non-legal) that determine how the internet and its related applications function, as well as the regulation and (algorithmic) moderation of content at the content/platform layer. 


The course will start by establishing a basic understanding of the functioning of the internet and its respective layers, which is crucial in order to critically examine its regulation. Special emphasis is given to the role and governance of the domain name system (DNS), the European legal framework for network neutrality and the regulation of internet platforms notably with respect to the use of algorithms for the purpose of content moderation and recommender systems. The regulation of internet resources as well as the regulation of “information” (e.g. “content” or “speech”) or “behaviour” on the internet is in the stress field of contractual and other private law mechanisms on the one hand, and regulatory and legislative mechanisms on the other hand. This picture is further complicated by the regulatory effects of technologies, standards and practices. This raises challenging questions around inter alia the “privatization” of enforcement, the role of technologies such as the use of algorithmic tools to moderate content, the distinction between unlawful and harmful information, the role of gatekeepers and other internet actors, the balancing of fundamental rights and the question of “user rights”. It is therefore not surprising that these questions are high on the agenda of national, European and international legislators, courts and policy-makers alike.


The course covers inter alia:

  • The functioning of the Internet and its respective layers and intermediaries including an introduction to Internet Governance;
  • The role and governance of the DNS (including dispute resolution);
  • The European framework for network neutrality;
  • The European framework for intermediary liability and liability exemption (including proposed regulatory changes by the Digital Services Act);
  • The use of algorithms to moderate / enforce information on the internet and associated challenges;
  • The sector-specific approaches with regards to notably copyright and other IP rights, personal data, hate speech, child-sexual abuse material, terrorist content, and misinformation;
  • The complex interplay of self- and co-regulation, the “contractual web” of Internet Governance as well as legislation, jurisprudence and relevant fundamental rights concerned.
Learning Outcome

“Internet Governance & Platform Regulation” should equip students with a solid understanding –both high-level as well as in-depth– of the regulation of core elements of the internet, with a focus on infrastructure intermediaries and online platforms. Following the course, students should have developed a basic understanding of technical concepts, in-depth knowledge of relevant legal sources and jurisprudence, as well as the ability to critically reflect on the different regulatory frameworks (such as contracts e.g. terms of service, self- and co-regulation, as well as legislation on the national, European or international level).


The course aims at empowering students to independently identify, contextualise and analyse complex, emerging legal and regulatory question related to the course’s subject with a view to provide sound legal analyses or policy advice. Furthermore, the course should enable students to present their argumentation in a structured, coherent and convincing manner.


Finally, considering the extremely fast-paced regulatory developments as well as the societal importance of the questions at stake, the course aims to not merely convey knowledge of the relevant legal rules de lege lata and issues but also to encourage a critical reflection, including the analysis of assumptions upon which current regulation is based and a discussion of alternative regulatory possibilities.

The reading list will be made available on Absalon. It consists of selected academic literature; furthermore, the course will engage with selected sections from relevant regulations (such as E-Commerce Directive, Digital Services Act proposal, Copyright DSM Directive, Commission Recommendation 2018, NIS Directive, Terrorist Content proposal, GDPR, E-Privacy Directive/Regulation, Artificial Intelligence Act proposal), self-regulation and policy documents (such as selected terms of service (ToS), Manilla principles, Christchurch call, Santa Clara principles, recommendations by Council of Europe and UN special rapporteurs) as well as case law (selected national (sparse), CJEU and ECHR).

 

It is an advantage to have an interest in the regulatory themes covered by this course. Furthermore, it is an advantage, but no requirement, if students have followed the B.A.-elective information law (informationsret). Students are expected to actively engage with the literature and policy discussions as well as actively participate in and between seminars.
The course will contain traditional class-room teaching as well as digital learning elements.

The course material will be presented by traditional lectures with student dialogues, via (spot-) discussions of snippets and cases, flipped classroom activities (prepared presentation on selected topics by all students), interaction with expert guest speakers, and supporting online activities.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • Total
  • 206,25
Oral
Individual
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Credit
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min.
Oral exam based on a synopsis, 20 minutes
Exam registration requirements

In order to attend the oral examination, it is a prerequisite to hand in the synopsis before the specified deadline. The deadline is agreed upon with the course lecturer.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

week 43, 2021

Re-exam

week 4, 2022 - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday