The Regulation of Media and Communications in the Borderless Networked Society

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media theory, communication theory, regulation, communication law, borders, networks, interdisciplinarity


This in an introduction to the special Issue "Media and Communication Theory and the Regulation of the Networked Society" published by the international peer-review journal LAWS. The collection of articles builds on the interdisciplinary dialogue that took place at the University of Windsor (Canada) symposium on the regulation of digital platforms, new media and technologies in the fall of 2019. The articles of the collection explore the various effects of media and borders, networks, amidst pandemics and environmental crises, different understandings of regulation, and the particular challenges of interdisciplinarity as it connects to law and regulation. The collection gathers the works of several academics worldwide who reflect on some of the biggest questions and challenges of our time: how do transnational digital media platforms, algorithms and big data shape commerce, politics, speech and mobilization or resistance on pressing issues such as climate change, the pandemic, elections, racial discrimination or social justice? How do transnational digital platforms redefine the role of our governments, our everyday lives, the citizenry? How do governments, private undertakings, institutions and citizens resort to, or respond to, this ultra-mediatized networked environment? To what extent have national borders become obsolete in this networked global village? Building on the scholarship of Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan and others, as a point of departure to explore the regulation of new media, this Special Issue tackles several of these pressing questions in a post-colonialist, posttruth environment. Various theories about media, networks and borders at the intersection of law and regulation may better inform the goals that law and policy makers should pursue (or not). This is particularly timely as governments, private corporations and citizens around the world face unprecedented challenges with flows of (dis)information about the global pandemic, hate speech and environmental crises.