Piattaforme digitali e libertà di espressione fra autoregolamentazione e coregolazione: note ricostruttive

Starting from the concurring opinion of Justice Thomas in Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, 593 U.S. (2021) case – the paper analyzes the issue of the private regulation of free speech restrictions on digital platforms. Since 2000, dominant digital platforms – which provide avenues for historically unprecedented amounts of speech – started using policies of “content moderation”, so as not to lose users, prohibiting messages related to hate speech or fake news, defined by the platforms themselves, in the conditions of service. The paper shows how – both in the USA and in Europe – the public authorities have left it to the platforms themselves to dictate the rules, allowing freedom of speech to be stifled by private parties, without any liability. Also the model of coregulation – followed in Europe to adopt the EU Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online and the Code of Practice on Disinformation and now in view of the approval of the Digital Service Act – turned out to be similar to the model of self-regulation, as it is equally entrusted to the platforms to identify the limits to freedom of speech. This raises the question of the twisting of sovereignty, by assigning to platforms the role of law making.

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