In Part I, I explored the challenges of regulating digital platforms to promote competition, protect consumers, and encourage news production and civic engagement. Today, I plan to dive into the first set of challenges. First, I define what I mean when I talk about digital platforms. I will argue that platforms that (a) provide a two-sided or multi-sided market; (b) are accessed via the internet; and (c) have at least one side that is marketed as a “mass market” service, share a set of characteristics and raise a similar set of concerns so that we should consider them as a distinct set of businesses.
As digital platforms have become increasingly important in our everyday lives, we’ve recognized that the need for some sort of regulatory oversight increases. In the past, we’ve talked about this in the context of privacy and what general sorts of due process rights dominant platforms owe their customers. Today, we make it clear that we have reached the point where we need sector-specific regulation focused on online digital platforms, not just application of existing antitrust or existing consumer protection laws. When platforms have become so central to our lives that a change in algorithm can dramatically crash third-party businesses, when social media plays such an important role in our lives that entire businesses exist to pump up your follower numbers, and when a multi-billion dollar industry exists for the sole purpose of helping businesses game search engine rankings, lawmakers need to stop talking hopefully about self-regulation and start putting in place enforceable rights to protect the public interest.
At the end of June, California enacted what has been billed as a comprehensive privacy law. By all accounts, it was a rush job, negotiated in a week behind closed doors in a desperate and successful attempt to keep Californians for Consumer Privacy Campaign Chairman Alaistair MacTaggart’s privacy initiative off the November ballot. As sometimes happens, the law’s proponents and a few reporters may have overhyped the legislation – both given its current contents and because many expect it to change before its effective date in January 2020.
As we have previously outlined in detail, sustainability management provides a useful conceptual framework for crafting forward-looking cybersecurity policy. A sustainable approach to cybersecurity involves, among other things, acknowledging that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, framing business choices that prioritize security as investments, and engaging broadly in risk management practices. The Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem has reached (or, arguably, passed) an inflection point in its development, and a sustainability-based security baseline for consumer-facing IoT is past due.
How many images or videos have you seen of Minecraft? If you’ve seen versions of the game with fantastic characters from some of your favorite franchises or exotic lands, then you may have been looking at a mod. Modifications (or “mods”) are how members of the gaming community add to the games they love. Companies realize that mods are great for business and keep games alive and popular, enabling them to stand on their own for much longer.