By Ronan Fahy (Faculty of Law), Judith Möller (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences), Rocco Bellanova (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences).
In Europe today, digital platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, provide essential means for millions of people to express themselves, engage in public debate, and organise politically. However, governments can leverage the power of platforms to impose new forms of restrictions on free expression, and engage in surveillance of individuals and activism. This project examines the troubling wave of regulation sweeping across Europe targeting public expression on online platforms, the role of platforms in the facilitation of government surveillance, and how platform practices shape information dissemination. As such, the project casts a light on how platforms’ specific digitisation processes affect public expression and surveillance, which can, in turn, be leveraged by governments for restricting free expression and surveillance purposes. The project approaches the questions from a unique interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together law, political communication and surveillance studies to outline the issues emerging in relation to platform-government cooperation in Europe.