Governing internet expression : the international and transnational politics of freedom of expression
Title: Governing internet expression : the international and transnational politics of freedom of expression
Author: WAGNER, Benjamin
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2013
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
Why should anyone care about freedom of expression? Why does it matter that individuals have the ability to speak their mind uninhibited? What inherent value can be found in the seeking, receiving and imparting of information that would cause any society to raise it to the level of a human right? And why should the story and its subsequent narration in modern liberal thought raise the value of free expression to a value worth dying for? Why does speech matter? This thesis explores the governance of freedom of expression on the Internet. It focuses on liberal democracies and global corporations in North America and Europe, analyzing governance practices rather than norms or discourses. The thesis also studies developments in Internet technology, which it is argued increase the disciplinary capacity of technical Internet architecture. The thesis suggests that the Internet has seen the rise of innovative governance practices that influence how the Internet is regulated. From contesting code to algorithmic regulation and quasi-public NGOs, many novel governance practices can be observed by studying how the Internet is governed. Indeed it can be argued that Internet Governance is itself a forum for international regulatory debates on the nature of appropriate regulation in a globalized world. Finally, an argument is developed which suggests that a 'global default' of Internet speech restriction has developed in the last two decades. This global default is at the core of many disagreements in Global Internet Governance, but at the same time can only be understood in an international context. That such a system could even be developed internationally has required specific forms of global governance, termed here 'legitimacy theatre.' This phenomenon serves to ensure weak institutionalization and minimal state involvement while enabling extensive coordination between private actors. These factors all contribute to creating the Internet as we know it today and help in understanding what can be said and what is hidden or excluded from the most important human communications platform.
LC Subject Heading: Freedom of expression; Freedom of information; Internet governance; Internet -- Government policy
Defence date: 3 December 2013; Examining Board: Professor Sven Steinmo, European University Institute (Supervisor) Professor Alexander H. Trechsel, European University Institute Professor Kavé Salamatian, University of Savoie Professor Juan Carlos De Martin, Nexa Center, Politecnico di Torino
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