In Europe today, digital platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, provide essential means for millions of people to express themselves, engage in public debate and organize politically. However, governments can leverage the power of platforms to impose new forms of restrictions on free expression, and engage in surveillance of individuals and activism. This project examines the troubling wave of regulation sweeping across Europe targeting public expression on online platforms, the role of platforms in the facilitation of government surveillance, and how platform practices shape information dissemination. As such, the project casts a light on how platforms’ specific digitisation processes affect public expression and surveillance, which can, in turn, be leveraged by governments for restricting free expression and surveillance purposes. The project approaches the questions from a unique interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together law, political communication, and surveillance studies to outline the issues emerging in relation to platform-government cooperation in Europe.
Ronan Fahy is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Information Law, Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam, specializing in information law and fundamental rights.