For the past two decades, the 2000 Electronic Commerce Directive has been the cornerstone of internet regulation in the European Union, and its safe harbors have played a crucial part in the creation of the modern internet. In recent years, however, rightholders, politicians, civil society groups and others have increasingly challenged the status quo, arguing that Europe has naively allowed itself to be exploited by unaccountable – mostly American – tech giants.
Although these critics often disagree strongly about exactly what needs to be done and why, they have convinced legislators that something must be done. As a result, dozens of laws have been passed or proposed at the EU level in the last few years, transforming the legal environment in which platforms operate on everything from privacy, copyright, and free speech to competition, labor law, and tax. By acting first and asking questions later, the EU is hard at work establishing a de facto global standard for tech regulation.
Publication with Dorien Verhulst in MLRC Bulletin: Legal Frontiers in Digital Media 2019/1