Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Information and Communications Technology Law




School of Business and Law




This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Information & Communications Technology Law on 26 February 2020, available online:

Dowdeswell, T. L., & Goltz, N. (2020). The clash of empires: Regulating technological threats to civil society. Information & Communications Technology Law, 29(2), 194-217.


This paper examines the regulation of technology platform companies providing a platform for user-generated media content while playing an increasingly dominant role in the global flow of news and information. In doing so, platform companies play a crucial role in modern civic life, by deciding which content will reach users, engage the public's attention, and be deemed credible. It is therefore crucial that we choose means of regulation that foster democratic values and robust civic engagement. In this paper we focus on the regulation of ‘computational propaganda', including misinformation and ‘fake news', the rise of synthetic media and so-called ‘deep fakes', and novel forms of algorithmic injustice, such as the manipulation of search engine results and their effect on elections. We argue that many existing regulations fall short in that they adopt an approach that views regulation as a battle between two competing powers, or ‘empires’–that of the regulatory state versus the big tech companies. Accordingly, they approach regulation as a means of redistributing power between these two players, while discounting the end user, and they often involve unjustified restrictions of free speech through the imposition of content controls. © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.



Research Themes

Securing Digital Futures

Priority Areas

Artificial intelligence and autonomous systems

Included in

Law Commons