Research event

Global platform governance and the internet-governance impossibility theorem

A presentation by Blayne Haggart (Brock University). This event is part of the Digital Governance Research Colloquium hosted by the Centre for Digital Governance and the Data Science LabPrior registration is not required.

Economist Dani Rodrik argues that global economic governance is characterized by a trilemma: ‘we cannot have hyperglobalization, democracy, and national self-determination all at once. We can have at most two out of three.’ This trilemma can also be applied to internet governance and global platform governance as a corollary global internet-governance impossibility theorem.

This trilemma, which emphasizes who sets the rules and the degree of democratic accountability they face, offers us a way to evaluate online content-regulation proposals. This article applies this framework to four prominent platform-governance proposals: Facebook’s proposal for a global ‘Oversight Board’; David Kaye’s book Speech Police; the United Kingdom’s Online Harms White Paper; and French President’s Emmanuel Macron’s speech to the 2018 Internet Governance Forum. Of the four, only Macron’s framework offers a pathway to reconciling democratic accountability with the existence of different legitimate views on how content should be regulated.

Blayne Haggart is Associate Professor of Political Science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of Copyfight: The Global Politics of Digital Copyright Reform (University of Toronto Press, 2014), and co-editor (with Natasha Tusikov and Kathryn Henne) of Information, Technology and Control in a Changing World: Understanding Power Structures in the 21st Century (Palgrave, 2019), and of an upcoming volume on state involvement in internet governance (Routlege). He received his PhD in Political Science with a specialization in political economy from Carleton University in 2011. A former reporter and economist, his current research focuses on the international political economy of knowledge governance.

Prior registration is not required.