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Research issue in focus

Platform regulation and data governance

Digital platforms play a crucial role in social discourse. Besides providing access to products, entertainment and information, they also enable the politicisation of online spaces. In these, people discuss with each other, but also spread hate speech or disinformation. At HIIG, we are investigating how these new digital public spheres can be regulated by law. In addition to safeguarding human rights, the rule of law and democratic values, we are also focusing on the huge amounts of data managed by platform companies. How can this data be "shared" between state, private and public actors for new innovations for the benefit of society?


What are digital platforms?

From social networks to video platforms to messenger apps: digital platforms and their services shape our everyday lives. As central players in our networked world, they have great economic power. For example, they decide under what conditions we can consume music, films or goods online. They also decide what information is displayed on our feeds and when. Many larger platforms have created their own markets and rules in recent decades, with which they exercise  powerful influence on our social discourse. 

Why do we need socio-political regulation of digital platforms (governance)?

Platforms have become powerful actors that set their own rules and enforce them with their algorithms and the design of their services. They do not answer to society nearly enough; their bosses are not elective and in no way representative (vastly more white and male than average), nor has anyone legitimised their decisions about what we can see and buy. States and the political order, however, are responsible for respecting, protecting and guaranteeing the rights of their citizens. This also applies to private actors, and especially the platforms.

What is data governance and why is it important?

Data governance refers to the structures and processes that are established based on different ideas, interests and risk perceptions to deal with data that are worthy of protection. They can be personal data, business secrets or even open data. Often, data governance is about "sharing" data or using artificial intelligence (AI). On the one hand, good data governance aims to achieve the desired effects of data processing. This means generating new insights, driving innovation or simply connecting people with each other. On the other hand, undesired effects, ranging from surveillance and censorship to exploitation, discrimination or political repression, should be prevented or minimised. Good data governance therefore tries to implement in technical systems the best solutions that are acceptable to all stakeholders and that protect the interests of all participants as well as the society as a whole.

Videos from the HIIG cosmos

Digitaler salon

Lost in Regulation

In our Digitaler Salon we discuss the power of platforms. How do we resolve the tension between freedom of expression, disinformation and hate speech in social media?


José van Dijck: Europe and responsible platform societies

In our making sense of the digital society lecture series, José van Dijck discusses what responsibilities Europe has for platform societies.

Digital and indisciplined

What is content moderation?

How do platform companies manage and regulate the huge amounts of information and data that we publish on them every day in the form of text posts, photos or videos? With the help of algorithms!

Blog articles on the topic of digital platform regulation and data governance

Content moderation on digital platforms: A more intensive horizontal effect of freedom of expression?

To what extent should private companies be bound by freedom of expression? Investigating a more intensive horizontal effect of fundamental rights.

Wie verwaltet man Daten im Gesundheitswesen- und Pflegesektor?

Human-centered data governance in health and care sectors

Personal data is particularly sensitive and worthy of protection in the health and care sector. What could good data governance look like here?

Twitter needs to be handled with care

Turning back time for Content Moderation? How Musk’s takeover is affecting Twitter’s rules

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is bringing platform governance to the centre of the media spotlight. But (how) have Twitter's content policies changed so far?

Digital Democracy needs deliberation

Designing Digital Democracy

Designing rules for digital democracy is difficult. But new ideas for more democracy on platforms through deliberative elements are being piloted. How promising are they?

Social Media Councils can help to force digital platforms into responsibilty

Social Media Councils: An effective means of holding digital platforms accountable?

Social Media Councils may align public values with platform governance if platform economic incentives are taken into account.

Banner Blogpost: Reclaim Digital Autonomy

Reclaiming Digital Autonomy

We depend on large companies to mean well with us and our data. Jan Götte and Björn Scheuermann developed Inertial Hardware Security Modules, enabeling small-time users and sysadmins to regain...

One Council to Rule Them All: Can Social Media Become More Democratic?

Parliaments set the rules for democracies. Platforms rule their private online spaces. But as online spaces become ever more important for democratic discourse, we ask ourselves: Can we make platforms…

Same same but (not so) different

Anonymization is advertised as a solution for privacy concerns, while machine learning is portrayed as dangerous and evil – but those operations have more in common than widely assumed. We...

Seeing Without Being Seen: The Map as a Medium for Simulated Surveillance

An illuminated, 170 square meter satellite photograph of Berlin covers floor and walls of the exhibition space of the former Stasi-prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen – it visualises the surveillance network of…

Internet in Danger | HIIG

Let‘s build a better internet. An Internet powered by the people and for the people.

How the world can band together to tackle the big questions of the age of digital interdependence, argue Matthias C. Kettemann, Wolfgang Kleinwächter and Max Senges. UN Secretary-General António Guterres…