JJUA55320U Regulating Big Tech

Volume 2024/2025
Content

Allowing for global and multidimensional information access and sharing, the Internet features an ecosystem that is global, multifaceted and complex. Major Internet firms often leverage advertising, data monetization, and platform-based services to generate revenue. Global digital corporations (e.g. Apple, Meta (formerly Facebook), Google, Microsoft, X (formerly Twitter) have played leading roles in shaping the transnational digital order, enabled by initially light regulation and robust liability protection in the US. However, these days the US companies are facing significant regulatory challenges posed by requirements of the EU law and other legal orders (such as China and Russia).

 

Governments and major Internet corporations play pivotal roles in governing Internet infrastructure, content, and value creation. The underlying interests and incentives can both converge and differ. Governments seek to regulate Internet infrastructure for national security, economic, and social objectives, often emphasizing law enforcement access and sovereignty. Conversely, Internet corporations often advocate for minimal regulation to foster innovation and the free flow of information. The normative outcome of the tug-of-war is a complex network of self-regulatory, international, regional and national rules. The regulatory environment is fluid and subject to continuous fragmentation, undermining the vision of the Internet as a global and universally accessible network. Over the last years, there have been increasing concerns about the human rights implications of practices by big tech corporations as well. The big tech companies have faced criticism for the use of their platforms by malign actors to interfere in democratic processes (e.g. Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal), and spread an uncontrollable flow of disinformation and hate speech spurring violence and atrocity crimes in conflict areas (e.g. Myanmar, Ukraine). A number of significant self-governing initiatives have been undertaken by big tech corporations to ensure compliance with human rights, however, more regulation is needed in the years to come.

 

This course aims to provide an overview of the Internet governance models, by focusing on the role and regulatory potential of selected global Internet corporations. It navigates through a dynamic and intricate landscape of technology, economics, politics, and law in both international and regional (such as the EU) contexts. The major topics of the course will cover issues related to the legal challenges in regulating major big tech companies; threats to human rights posed by the practices of big tech corporations (e.g. online hate speech and disinformation), the use of AI; data protection and the right to privacy; EU regulation and non-EU regulations of big tech corporations.

Learning Outcome

Knowledge:

Upon the completion of the course, students should be capable of:

  • Understanding the overall legal and regulatory landscape: students should be able to identify and explain central legal sources - both international and regional - that are employed to regulate big tech companies.
  • Identifying and critically examining ethical and policy considerations: students should be able to identify, discuss, and evaluate principal policy considerations behind the regulatory response.
  • Evaluating and discussing the limits, promises and perils of self-regulation by big tech companies
  • Providing reasoned opinions on issues of effectiveness of existing regulations and challenges of the enforcement
  • Discussing and proposing a potential of the existing laws to accommodate the emerging challenges of the tech industry

 

Skills: 

The student should be able to:

  • identify the relevant legislative framework
  • correctly use the central concepts of
  • present and analyse relevant case law
  • have constructive discussions and efficient work in groups

 

Competences:

The student should be capable of:

  • Terms and policies of services provision by selected big tech companies
  • Selected chapters of textbooks
  • Selection of academic articles
  • Excerpts from the EU legal sources such as the GDPR, Digital Service Act, Digital Markets Act,
  • Judgments by the Court of Justice of the EU, relevant UN reports and case studies from the legal practice
  • Podcasts
     

375 pages in total
 

It is illegal to share digital textbooks with each other without permission from the copyright holder.

English proficiency, critical thinking, ability and willigness to participate in class.
Some knowledge of human rights law, international law.
The students are expected to read the mandatory readings and participate actively in class.
The course will adopt the Socratic method and students will be called upon to contribute on cases they have read for class.
To improve the learning process, the course uses both traditional lecturing methods and other more interactive and research-based techniques aimed at activating the students in class (including the viewing of a film).
The goal is to educate students into thinking ciritcally and independently, to engage with legal texts from several jurisdictions and to think critically about global corporations.
The class room should be a learning environment in which the students can restructure the knowledge previously acquired through the readings into a richer and more critical knowledge. In addition, to encourage the reflection on the ideas presented in class, students will be asked to investigate the topic as it relates to their own jurisdiction refer to relevant academic and legal (Case-law) literature.
The course has changed its name from 'Regulating Internet Giants - Google, Amazon and Facebook'
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 178,25
  • Seminar
  • 28
  • Total
  • 206,25
Written
Oral
Individual
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
Credit
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Home assignment
Type of assessment details
Individual written assignment
Aid

Read about the descriptions of the individual exam forms, including formal requirements, scope and deadlines in the exam catalogue
 

Read about practical exam conditions at KUnet
 

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Hand in date: October 24, 2024

Re-exam

Hand in date: January 22, 2025