Blogs | Information democracy | Alternatives to dominant digital services | Freedom of expression online

Regulating online communications: Fix the system, not the symptoms

By EDRi · July 3, 2019

Our digital information ecosystem fails to deliver the communications landscape needed to sustain our democracies. In a problem analysis, EDRi member Bits of Freedom introduces and disentangles some of the key concepts and issues surrounding the dominant role of platforms and the resulting harms to our freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression is a human right enshrined in law. It includes the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, without undue interference or fear of retaliation. It is indispensable for both the development of individuals as well as for the protection and advancement of our democratic societies. It is essential for holding those in power to account.

Our current online communications landscape fails to deliver these opportunities. A few giant corporations dominate the ecosystem, leading to the obstruction of our communications, including that of journalists and civil society, undue control over our public debate, and extremely limited possibilities for market challengers.

Characteristics inherent to these giant platforms and the ecosystem in which they operate, make them nearly immune to political, societal and consumer pressure. Therefore it has proven to be difficult for our correctional mechanisms – self-regulation, the market, policy makers and civil society – to sufficiently address the biggest harms and weed out the most toxic practices.

With the paper “Fix the system, not the symptoms”, Bits of Freedom wishes to contribute to shifting the discussion from how we can adapt to these businesses and fix their platforms, towards what a healthy communications landscape looks like in an increasingly digitalised world – and how to get there.

Bits of Freedom

Regulating online communications: fix the system, not the symptoms

Fix the system, not the symptoms (19.06.2019)

(Contribution by EDRi member Bits of Freedom, the Netherlands)