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Challenges of regulating digital communication platforms

What are society’s requirements for regulating digital communication platforms? To answer this question, our project is aiming to develop evidence-based regulatory policy options.

Project description

Digital communication platforms offer many opportunities for public discourse and innovative business models. At the same time, there are significant risks, for instance through the exclusion of certain groups or the spread of misinformation. Furthermore, global platform providers possess considerable market power.

With the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Market Act (DMA), the European Union is pushing ahead with an ambitious legislative package to regulate this digital world. Useful regulation, however, requires broad support in society.

In this context, our research project is seeking to carve out societal requirements for regulations. In doing so, this interdisciplinary project brings together perspectives from communication studies and law.

We investigate, inter alia, how video platforms are perceived by society and what challenges they pose for smaller digital companies with their own business models. Associated with this and mindful of different groups’ needs regarding regulation, we examine the following areas:

  • Media policy: Ensuring plurality of opinion in social debates and safeguarding the quality of public communication, i.e. preventing hate speech and misinformation
  • Data protection: Safeguarding informational self-determination
  • Copyright law: Safeguarding the rights of producers and users of content
  • Competition and commercial law: Safeguarding the business interests of smaller digital companies, in particular towards platform operators (who have the power to negotiate).

In addition, evidence-based regulatory options are being developed, taking into account in particular the YouTube community’s perspectives. For this purpose, the project team is conducting interviews with active YouTubers to collect their assessments of the platform’s level of regulation.

Project team

Steliyana Doseva

Researcher, bidt

Jan Schillmöller

Associated Researcher, bidt

Fay Carathanassis

Researcher, bidt

Prof. Dr. Hannah Schmid-Petri

Member of bidt's Board of Directors | Chair of Science Communication, University of Passau

Prof. Dr. Dirk Heckmann

Member of bidt's Board of Directors | Chair of Law and Security in Digital Transformation, Technical University of Munich