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Between self-regulation and intervention in the networked economy: the European Union and Internet policy

Halpin, Edward and Simpson, Seamus (2002) Between self-regulation and intervention in the networked economy: the European Union and Internet policy. Journal of information science, 24 (4). pp. 285-296. ISSN 0165-5515

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Abstract

The governance of economic organization and exchange across the Internet is widely recognized as being a vital part of the emerging new international networked economy. Here, the interface between the economic and the political has been brought sharply into focus as the role of government in the Internet’s future development is considered. Through examining different strands of European Union policy activity related to the Internet, this article aims to characterize and offer an explanation for the emergent patterns of governance witnessed. Whilst still at an embryonic stage, it is argued that EU policy displays, thus far, a ‘mixed mode’ of governance combining, on the one hand, acceptance of the neo-liberal model of self-regulation, with, on the other, a distinctly more interventionist ‘hands on’ policy with specific commercial and social goals in mind. Liberalizing initiatives in telecommunications and electronic commerce, as well as a self-regulatory approach to Internet content issues, contrast with actively neo-mercantilist activity in such areas as international discussions on the structure and function of ICANN and the .EU domain name regulation, where clear efforts are being made to shape the contours of the European electronic marketplace. It is suggested that EU Internet policy is characterized by negative coordination in a system in which transnational European and global regulatory networks are likely to emerge.

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