The question therefore becomes – is it time we look beyond the ‘internet’ as it exists, to newer models of communication? The ‘models’ I refer to here are not absolutely novel – nothing under the sun is. These models still rely on the TCP/IP protocol, still use parts of the ‘internet’, still use the network laid down for it – learn from it, and improve it. These models, in fact, bring to mind the original image that was created of the internet, so much so that we can actually call these models of communication the legacies of the ideas of the ‘original internet’, challenging the dominance of the ‘neo-internet’. So is it time we focus on these models, develop them, and mark the decline of the ‘neo-internet’?
I’ll start with a side-note. In public debate, somehow, Network Neutrality ends up being represented as an absolutist concept, as “ISPs should perform no discrimination between the data travelling on their networks”. Now, as welcome an ideal as that is, the problem is that that is not practically possible, mostly because of Quality of Service (‘QoS’) concerns. This, of course, does not mean that Network Neutrality should not exist – there exist multiple proposals that reconcile these concerns with Network Neutrality, an example of the same being the application-agnostic discrimination, put forth by Barbara van Schewick.
The fundamental idea of the Schumpeterian model of Creative Destruction images a continuous cycle of Creation and Destruction of monopolies, presenting a continuous story of capitalism. Of course, the entirety of the Schumpeterian economic discourse is a very complex issue, and I have my issues with parts of it, but I am using the Schumpeterian analogy here as it is relevant to the point I will be making here. The breaking point of a monopoly starts, in this limited context, with a new technology that ‘decentralises’ power, therefore challenging the existing ‘monopoly’. And this is where the Internet comes in.
This is the second in a two-part series by Jyoti Panday of Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, on the role of intermediaries in addressing online abuse. The first part of this post is available here.
The standards for blocking, reporting and responding to abuse vary across different categories of platforms. For example, it may be easier to counter trolls and abuse on blogs or forums where the owner or an administrator is monitoring comments and UGC. Usually platforms outline monitoring and reporting policies and procedures including recourse available to victims and action to be taken against violators. However, these measures are not always effective in curbing abuse as it is possible for users to create new accounts under different usernames. For example, in Swati’s case the anonymous user behind @LutyensInsider account changed their handle to @gregoryzackim and @gzackim before deleting all tweets. In this case, perhaps the fear of criminal charges ahead was enough to silence the anonymous user, which may not always be the case.
The TechLawForum@NALSAR is happy to bring you a detailed two-part post by Jyoti Panday of Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, on the role played by Intermediaries in countering abuse on the internet. Jyoti is a graduate of Queen Mary’s University, London. Her work focuses on the interaction between intermediaries, user rights, and and freedom of expression.
The Internet can be a hostile space and protecting users from abuse without curtailing freedom of expression requires a balancing act on the part of online intermediaries. As platforms and services coalesce around user-generated content (UGC) and entrench themselves in the digital publishing universe, they are increasingly taking on the duties and responsibilities of protecting rights including taking reasonable measures to restrict unlawful speech. Arguments around the role of intermediaries tackling unlawful content usually center around the issue of regulation—when is it feasible to regulate speech and how best should this regulation be enforced?