Taming the iMonster: Regulating digital platforms

DigiGov Virtual Winter School

Digital platforms, understood as the technical and social infrastructure for the collection, storage, curation, analysis, distribution or commercialisation of digital data, are frequently compared to a Leviathan: A “monster” that people submit their natural freedoms to in order to receive something back that they consider essential. In the case of the platform-Leviathan, it is not physical security and the protection of their property that people receive in return, but the possibility to communicate across time and space, to connect different groups to buy and sell goods in a faster and more convenient manner, or to look for rides, jobs, houses, partners. Especially during and after Covid-19, submitting to the iMonster has been a necessary condition for many people to be able to do the things they need to do to hold a job or two and run their families. 

How do we best regulate digital platforms?

This was the question that the interdisciplinary and virtually held Winter School focused on. Together with DigiGov affiliates as well as external experts from various disciplines and fields of practice, and over the course of two weeks in February 2022 (14-25 February), our participants explored questions such as:

  • What is the role of states in regulating digital platforms?
  • What value do digital platforms create, and for whom?
  • What is the role of ethics in the process?
  • What knowledge does robust regulation require?

Apart from our wonderful participants who joined us from all over the world, we are very grateful to our terrific speakers John Albert (AlgorithmWatch), Wolfie Christl (Cracked Labs, Vienna), Dr Jonathan Gray (King’s College London & Public Data Lab), Dr Alex Hanna (Distributed AI Research Insitute), Prof Klaus Hoeyer (University of Copenhagen), Prof Matthias C. Kettemann (University of Innsbruck), Dr Susanne Lackner (KommAustria), Prof Jürgen Pfeffer (Technical University Munich), Prof Sandra Wachter (University of Oxford), and Dr Theresa Züger (Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society). 

This winter school was coordinated by Dr Elisabeth Steindl.

 Video recordings

The Winter School itself was organized as a non-public event. However, the participants of the Winter School have selected three keynotes of the Winter School that they would like to share with a wider public.

The videos show lectures by Prof Nikolaus Forgó ('Is there anything one can expect from platform regulation?') , Prof Matthias C. Kettemann ('The role, relationship and potential of soft and hard law in governing platforms'), and Dr Heta Tarkkala ('Shaping social life: platforms between public values and private interest').

As part of the Winter School, a public round table took place on the topic of Public Interest Research. Here, you find the recording.

 Blog posts

Many thanks to everyone who made our first Winter School such a wonderful experience! It was a pleasure to organize this event that connected people from all around the globe.

We are already looking forward to the next winter school (stay tuned)!