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Thematic Issue: Big Technology and the Law / General

Digital Democracy: Big Technology and the Regulation of Politics


Anika Gauja

The legal regulation of politics has, at its core, the aim of preserving three fundamental democratic values: liberty, equality and deliberative political participation. Yet, the reference point for examining these values is rooted in 19th and 20th century practices: where political campaigning and mobilisation follow terrestrial principles of organisation and regulation is undertaken by the state. Using the most recent empirical evidence drawn from political science on the changing nature of political participation and organisation, this article analyses the challenges of regulating digital politics. It argues that while the major focus of current interventions centres on political disinformation, this obscures more fundamental regulatory concerns such as capturing the diversity of new modes of participation and reconceptualising equality. While a model of co-regulation holds promise by institutionalising communities and individuals within technology companies’ policy decision-making processes, firms’ ultimate authority to define and control their user base presents challenges for effective participation.

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(2021) 44(3) UNSWLJ 959: