Guarini Colloquium: Regulating Global Digital Corporations

Professors Thomas Streinz and J.H.H. Weiler
Fall 2020
Credits: 2

 Global digital corporations (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter) have played leading roles in shaping the transnational digital order, enabled by light regulation and robust liability protection in the US. Their platforms make rules, and their lobbying has influenced both national regulators and international treaty negotiators especially in the ‘electronic commerce’ and ‘digital trade’ chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the new NAFTA between the US, Mexico, and Canada (USMCA). But these US companies are encountering increasing regulatory pushback, especially in the EU with its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and a different approach prevails in China, the home of several world-leading internet companies (e.g. Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent). Part I of this course begins with an overview of the Internet’s technological foundations, infrastructure, and governance, focusing on global Internet corporations’ role in each of these. We then canvas core legal concepts and ideas about cyber-law, cyber-conflicts, and the regulation of Internet corporations and their platforms in global contexts. In Part II, invited speakers from industry and academia discuss current controversies, novel technologies, and regulatory challenges. Part III consists of simulations and reflections on lawyering in a global digital corporation, assisted by a lawyer from Google. Students will learn about the interaction between lawyers, engineers, regulators, and other actors during the planning, launch, and operation of a digital product. The course deals with a rapidly changing and very complex technological and economic environment. The objective for the course is to equip students with the basic knowledge, core concepts, and versatile tools necessary to think critically and creatively about the legal and extra-legal regulation of global internet corporations going forward. Those wishing to receive an additional writing credit may write a single longer book or case analysis, analytic-policy paper, or research paper. These will be due by January 15, 2021. For those writing a longer paper for the "substantial writing" Writing Credit, a full draft is due November 25 for comments, and the final version is due January 15, 2021.