Regulating Internet Services by Size

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Citation: Eric Goldman, Jess Miers (2021) Regulating Internet Services by Size.
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Regulating Internet Services by Size
Wikidata (metadata): Q108323845


Discusses the logistical considerations and policy pitfalls of size-based regulation of internet services. Overall authors conclude that good regulation should apply to all, and bad regulation should be avoided.

Why size-based regulation?

  1. target bigger producers of social harm
  2. reduce barriers for new market entrants
  3. because it feels fairer

Size metric options

  1. Enterprise age
  2. Employees
  3. Market capitalization
  4. Revenue
  5. Consumer usage (monthly active users, subscribers, page impressions, etc)

Questions about metrics

  1. Is the metric published and audited?
  2. What constitutes the service? Suggests a "test suite" including NYT and Wikimedia to avoid false positives
  3. What is the measurement time period?
  4. How should metrics be combined?


  1. Increased adjudication costs: if modifying Section 230, would add element to weigh before dismissal
  2. Without Section 230 protection, services may socially suboptimally over- or under-moderate, or exit business (assuming size-based regulation limits 230 for large services)
  3. Unwanted countermoves: for any metric, large services can change/restructure

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

The authors did not address whether size-based regulation might achieve ends they say interest regulators ("why"), only touching on costs and uncertainty.