Saviours and Barbarians at the Gate: Dilemmas of Regulatory Policies for New Media

Saviours and Barbarians at the Gate: Dilemmas of Regulatory Policies for New Media

Arun Mahizhnan (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-147-4.ch027
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This chapter is based on the Keynote Speech at International Workshop on Regulatory Policies for New Media at Leipzig on 23-25 September 2009. It addresses the tensions between the inevitable need for some kind of regulation of the new media and the essentially uncontrollable nature of the architecture and the function of the media. State-regulation, self-regulation, and co-regulation have each its own strengths and weaknesses as a regime, and there is no magic bullet for keeping the new media under control. Ultimately, self-control of the end user seems more critical to the outcome than externally imposed control regimes.
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A good starting point for discussions of the regulatory framework of new media could be found in the deliberations of the Internet Content Summit held in Munich in 1999. It is the first sentence of the speech made at the Summit by Ira Magaziner, once the presidential advisor on internet policy development in America. This is what he said: “The one thing that we know for sure – and it is the only thing we know for sure about what our policies should be for the Internet – is that we do not know for sure what they should be!”1 At the time of this writing ten years have passed since that statement. Are we any wiser? Are we any surer?

This essay is a response to those questions. It is divided into four parts, each of which would cover one fundamental framework in providing the answer to the quest for the right regulatory framework for the new media. Each part highlights just one or two salient aspects that are particularly contentious in the discussions over the regulation of new media.

The first part will discuss State-Regulation as a policy framework, the second part, Self-Regulation, the third part, Co-regulation, a kind of hybrid system, and the final part, No Regulation – the fond hope of the pioneering generation of internet evangelists.

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