UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Self-regulation and co-regulation : prospects and boundaries in an online environment Doelker, Andreas


Industry self-regulation and governmental regulation compete for the best model of Internet regulation. This thesis challenges the argument that they have to be antagonistic schemes and evaluates the possibility of cooperation in the form of co-regulation or ‘regulated self-regulation’. It uses a comparative method to analyze the preference for the regulatory models in Europe, the United States and Canada, which draws upon the role of governments in a historical context and the impact of fundamental rights in the respective constitutional frameworks. Before considering the peculiarities of Internet regulation, the thesis identifies and analyzes the advantages and difficulties of both self-regulation and co-regulation. Whereas self-regulation lacks democratic legitimacy, has little incentive to detect violations and to maintain high standards, governments have the ability to compensate for some of these problems. In the Internet context, this analysis reveals the need to deal with regulatory effects of code, transborder conduct, and ways to sanction non-compliance. However, governments with traditional command-and-control legislature have not adapted to these specifics. A system that would suit the Internet environment is composed of certification and accreditation of codes of conduct, and support of self-regulatory institutions. The thesis proposes ten criteria for efficient co-regulation that attend to fundamental values and favor an open, transparent collaboration. It further evaluates the substitution of governmental influence by external self-regulatory bodies, and the integration of Internet users to create a democratic link between regulators and regulated. The ten criteria are applied to some exemplary regimes to demonstrate practical application and ways to improve existing regulation. This shows the potential of models in which the public sector defines the goals and the private sector offers the solutions.

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