Emerging Debates on Internet Platform Policy and Regulation in Latin America


Abstracts (400 words): 4 July 2022

Full manuscripts (6,000–8,000 words, including references): 1 November 2022

All submissions should be directed to the guest editors. See the journal’s peer review guidelines here and Notes for Contributors here.

Guest Editors:

Ana Bizberge, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (UNQ), CONICET, Argentina

(anabizberge /at/ gmail.com)

Rodrigo Gómez, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM)- Cuajimalpa, Mexico

(rgomez /at/ cua.uam.mx)

Guillermo Mastrini, Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (UNQ), CONICET, Argentina

(gmastri /at/ yahoo.com.ar)

Principal Editor:

Petros Iosifidis, City, University of London, UK

(p.iosifidis /at/ city.ac.uk)

In its infancy, the internet was surrounded by discourse that promised the democratization of access to information and freedom of speech. However, commercialization soon revealed its limitations. Contrary to the promise of openness and freedom of the internet, a handful of companies act as gatekeepers in the circulation of information, with a business model based on large-scale data collection (Snircek, 2018; Gillespie, 2017; Cammaerts and Mansell, 2020) or the monopolization of knowledge (Innis, 2006). According to McChesney (2013) capitalism formatted the internet for corporations. Scholars refer to Platform Society (van Dijck, Poell and De Waal, 2018), Platform Capitalism (Snircek, 2018), Surveillance Capitalism (Zuboff, 2019), ‘platformization’ of the ecosystem (Frías Barroso et al., 2016), ‘digital monopolies’ (Valente, 2019) or ‘platform imperialism’ (Jin, 2015). Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft (GAFAM) have come under intense criticism for their undue influence on the media, economy,society and democracy (Birkinbine, Gómez and Wasko, 2017; Winseck, 2020). The ‘platformization’ of the internet raises vital policy issues around market dominance, accountability, regulation, diversity, and ownership of data derived from people’s media use in both public and private venues. Those concerns, in turn, have brought the issue of communications policy back onto the political agenda in many countries, including those in the Latin American region (Kitchin and Lauriault 2018). Thus, this special issue aims to discuss policy and regulation of internet platforms in Latin America. It addresses the question of how the regional reflects global problems, while also asking which are the regional specificities in the debate that reflect regulatory traditions, market structures and institutional cultures, among others. The approach of this special issue draws on the early studies of the Latin American School of national communication policies whose objectives were: democratization, cultural autonomy and development (Solis, 2016; Altamirano, 2020; Gómez, 2022).

The economic and political power of internet platforms raise concerns in Latin America among scholars, civil society organizations, traditional players in the information and communication sector, as well as governments and policy makers. Some scholars in the region have focused on the liability of internet intermediaries (Levy and Aguerre, 2019, CELE, 2018), freedom of expression in the digital context (Becerra and Waisbord, 2021; Del Campo, 2019), the emergence and topics of regional and local Internet Governance Forums (Aguerre and others, 2018), and ownership concentration and regulation of the internet (Eptic v. 23 n. 1, 2021), to name a few. There is global concern over how to counter the dominance of US corporations in the world communication system. The European Union took a leading role and the governments of Australia, the UK, Canada, and even the US, are

discussing regulatory intervention. Also, while the OECD members agreed to implement a global 15% tax on multinationals (including big techs), the dominant approach in Latin American countries is taxing foreign digital service providers by extending the value added tax (VAT) (Bizberge, 2021). Debates around the world, including the Latin American region, involve power imbalance, ownership concentration, tensions between the national and the global, digital sovereignty, the public interest, cultural diversity and freedom of expression, the protection of users and society, privacy, transparency and accountability, the notion of communication commons, as well as the relationship between legacy media, telecom players and big tech companies, among others.

This special issue focuses on the emerging discussions on internet platforms and their economic and policy impact in Latin America- from a regional or national perspective- or comparative studies between Latin America and other regions. Reflecting the broad scope of issues arising from the expansion of the internet and platforms, this call for papers welcomes submissions in the following areas:

• digital sovereignty and digital infrastructures in the context of regulation;

• freedom of expression and cultural diversity in the age of platforms;

• digital platforms, ownership concentration and regulation;

• internet, media, and communications commons in the regulation debates;

• transparency and accountability in relation to tech companies’ opacity;

• human rights in the context of digital infrastructure and systems.

We will also consider short reports/commentaries with a policy focus of between 1,500–2,000 words, as well as books reviews.