chapter  2
22 Pages

Self-regulation of media content in Europe

During the 1990s, key decisions on Internet regulation were taken that marked out the paths upon which the Internet’s development would depend. It was a time of intense debate, which is examined in this chapter. We see that those developing the institutions of Internet regulation, knowingly or otherwise, drew upon existing models in other media sectors, and were influenced by the Anglo-American-inspired vogue for deregulation and liberalisation combined with a concern not to ‘break’ the technically and economically ‘miraculous’ new technology. At the birth of the World Wide Web, it was theoretically possible that Internet technology and content could have been regulated by economic competition, by social norms, by detailed legislation, by independent regulatory agencies, or by ‘purely’ self-regulatory agencies. It is to the debate about the relative merits of these forms of regulation, and the problematic distinctions between them, that we now turn.