Dossier Internet Concentration and Regulation

2021-06-11

The journal EPTIC (International Electronic Journal of Political Economy of Information, Communication, and Culture) calls for submissions for the thematic dossier “Concentration on the Internet and Regulation”, to be published in the third volume of 2021 (December). The publication will be done in partnership with OBSERVACOM.

The dossier will be coordinated by Patricia Maurício (PhD), Rodrigo Moreno Marques (PhD), and Ana Bizberge (PhD), content editor of OBSERVACOM. Interested parties must submit articles by August 20th, 2021.

The problem of concentration, which accompanies the development of capitalism, has historically been addressed by the Political Economy of Communication, Information, and Culture.

Associated with digitalization, the convergence between audiovisual, telecommunications, and informatics have been reducing the differences between sectors of the economy, allowing main agents to act beyond their original markets. In such a context, the concentration in the sphere of communication and information increases.

Many and different works analyze the market of television, convergence, and the expansion of concentration. Given the recent transformations in the realm of the internet, fundamental discussions emerge on the digital monopolies and their effects upon the exercise of rights, such as upon the right to freedom of expression, as well as on the competition and innovation.

Through the dossier Internet Concentration and Regulation, organized by the journal EPTIC in partnership with OBSERVACOM, we aim to reflect upon the current internet concentration, its impacts, and possibilities of overcoming it through regulation and counter-hegemonic practices.

The concentration of platforms has impacts on the creation and circulation of content in society.

Google and Facebook are emblematic examples of main actors of the digital environment: they concentrate the access to informative content and digital marketing; message services and online social networks; the market of web browsers and search engines. Besides that, they, increasingly, become huge providers of internet access (building undersea cables), among other aspects.

Furthermore, through contracts between telecommunications companies and corporations that commercialize services and contents, new restrictions to socially produced content arise, as shown by the zero-rating practices (access to some services/content without data consumption) by mobile phone companies.

Moreover, in the audiovisual sector, the merger processes of Disney and Fox, WarnerMedia (AT&T)-Discovery, or Amazon-MGM, demonstrate the tendencies of "convergent concentration" by large traditional players as well as by technology companies that seek to position themselves also in the video streaming market, globally led by Netflix.

For this call for papers, we expect articles that propose discussions on the following issues:

- Concentration on search services, social media, and messaging, as well as its impacts on content creation and circulation.

- Regulation proposals to face the power of platforms. Public regulation of platforms on content moderation. Challenges to freedom of expression. Algorithmic moderation and human intervention. User rights, terms, and conditions of use and international standards.

- Platform self-regulation: how platforms control user content through terms of service, community norms, and algorithms.

- Business models, value chains and sustainability. Relationship between traditional media and digital corporations, their characteristics, and proposals to address imbalances.

- Concentration of video streaming services offer. Convergent mergers; strategies of traditional actors in the streaming market; case studies of global internet actors.

- Regulation of audiovisual services on the internet: national cases, regional and global agendas. Reach and competence of regulators. Encouraging content production, promoting diversity, visibility criteria, among others.

- Convergence, platformization, and concentration: concentration on access infrastructure, platforms as connectivity providers; agreements between infrastructure and application operators, zero-rating practices.

Edition: Sept-Dec. - vol. 23, n. 3, 2021.

Deadline for submission of articles: August 20th, 2021.