P&I Special Issue 2023 Call for Paper – Datafication. Platformisation. Metaverse. Global Internet Policy or a Fractured Communication Future?

Datafication. Platformisation. Metaverse. Global Internet Policy or a Fractured Communication Future?

Special Issue Call for Papers, Volume 15, Issue 4

Datafication. Platformization. Metaverse. What is the state of global internet policy? Within our current online and hyper-connected lives, is it possible to have such a thing as global internet policy? Building off the 2022 Policy & Internet Conference, this special issue addresses the complex and multiple perspectives of internet policy from around the globe.

As we evolve through the Anthropocene and attempt to navigate the significant challenges humanity currently faces, we are consistently reminded of the most pressing critical issues of our epoch. Economic systems are the point of breaking, industrial action mobilised by unions is at an all-time high, inflation is rising, workers’ pay continues to fall, and the stability of our political systems has come into question. Our health systems are under unfathomable stress, refugee numbers are increasing through displacement, and the war in Ukraine continues, all of which adds to the growing global societal, economic and political pressures. And yet, concurrently, our connectivity through digital media and its surrounding environments is at an all-time high, arguably from the rise of technology players providing suites of social media platforms and its supporting infrastructures that enable a seamless and convenient, always-on lifestyle. The same app that enables us to chat with our friends and family can also book our rideshares, order our food, pay for our purchases and tempt us to become internet celebrities. What was once framed as user generated content activity has now become a normalised cultural pastime, as TikTok influencers feed the demotic turn that sees ordinary folk become internet superstars in rather small timeframes.

At the same time, policymakers are reforming legislation to address the incomprehensible imbalance of power that is generated by technology giants. One of the immediate issues concerning users is their online privacy. In many instances, governments continue to struggle with bringing large-scale social media platforms to account, and seeking mutually beneficial outcomes. TikTok especially has raised concerns with user privacy as many cybersecurity agencies who advise governments have no clear answers on how to maintain its use while not knowing what will happen to user data. Alongside user data issues, in some countries the relationship between technology providers and governments is blurred, where regulation is becoming a weaponized approach to citizen control. To counter these sorts of power imbalances, advocacy groups are consistently calling for safe, inclusive, affordable and reliable internet connectivity, as the digital divide continues to increase. The urgency for healthy online civic spaces has been highlighted as a key focus for advocacy groups, while ensuring the safety of its users has also been highlighted.

This special issue asks for responses to these contemporary issues and seeks to understand if a global internet policy is possible. How might we incorporate co-design, open dialogues, increased governance, interoperability and user-centred discussions into policy discussions? What are the immediate issues for policymakers?

We welcome research that addresses the following areas of interest (but not limited to):

  • Takedowns, shadowbanning, throttling
  • Non-western approaches towards internet policy
  • Internet governance and infrastructures
  • Content moderation
  • Regulatory responses that address the growing digital divide 
  • Communication and technology for positive economic development
  • Building strong communication systems during times of high societal pressure
  • Social media and labour concerns
  • Emerging digital communication for marginalised groups and individuals
  • Digital communication that bridges regional legislation
  • Communication and technology through comparative media systems 
  • Regulation for diversity across media systems
  • Media automation for the next 10 years and beyond
  • Young people and social media
  • Innovative empirical examples of positive digital communication and/or technology development

Please send through your title and 150-200 word abstract to Jonathon Hutchinson [jonathon.hutchinson@sydney.edu.au] and Milly Stilinovic [milica.stilinovic@sydney.edu.au] with the subject line: Policy & Internet Special Issue by October 31 2022.


October 31 – Abstracts due

November 18 – Notification of Accepted Papers

January 31 (2023) – Full Papers Due

March 31 (2023) – Final Revisions Due

Photo by Risto Kokkonen on Unsplash

Special Issue Call for Papers – The Regulation Turn?

Policy & Internet Journal: CFP Special Issue – Issue 1, 2022

Special Issue Editors: Jonathon Hutchinson, University of Sydney & Milica Stilinovic, University of Sydney

The Internet Regulation Turn? Policy, internet and technology

With the recent media focus on the regulation of social media platforms within our society, users, citizens, human rights advocacy groups, policymakers and content producers have all questioned the validity of these communication technologies. Do these technologies offer ease of connectivity, or do they have the potential to be weaponised and misappropriated to further political agendas, disrupt democratic processes, and abuse an individual’s right to (or assumption of) privacy? Recently, we have observed governments calling on platforms to account for their misalignment with local media markets. Regulators are asking platform providers for increased transparency into their distribution processes. Advocacy groups are asking for increased visibility. The custodians of the internet (Gillespie, 2018) are asking for better tools to manage their communities. At the same time, users are questioning the uses of their data.

Nonetheless, our societies are enjoying the benefits of our contemporary communication technologies for a variety of reasons. We see new markets emerging based on platform economic models, increased connectivity in times of physical isolation, new trends and connections are emerging, new cultural conventions are being forged between disparate individuals, and friends and families enjoy the increased ease and connectivity of communicating with their loved ones.

To say ‘if you do not pay for the product, you are the product’ (Orlowski, 2020) grossly misrepresents the entirety of the social dilemma we have found ourselves in – a hyper- commercialised and politicised internet of the 2020s. To combat this, we are observing several versions of a ‘Balkinized splinternet’ (Lemley, 2020) emerging, where nations and users are designing and creating their own version of what was conceived as a way to share and enjoy information across a connected and networked infrastructure. These new internet formations are accompanied by a variety of emerging economic models, such as cryptocurrency for example, to signify a moment of change has arrived (Swartz, 2020). By looking backwards, we are sometimes able to understand how we will move forward.

This special issue of Policy & Internet calls on scholars, practitioners, policymakers and students of the internet to rethink our internet, its policy and the surrounding communication technology of our contemporary society. We are looking for papers that examine the current social and communication dilemmas of the internet, and that map out the trajectory of Policy & Internet for the next five years. What will internet researchers be examining in three years? Has the idea of the ‘nation state’ returned within the debates surrounding ‘big tech’ giants? What will the civil society look like in five years? What does effective policy consider for the future of ourselves and our data in the several emerging versions of the internet?

Topics can be related, but not limited, to:

  • Internet studies
  • Platformisation
  • Everyday social media
  • Algorithmic media 
  • Internet governance
  • The ‘regulation turn’ of the internet 
  • News distribution
  • Platform accountability
  • Critical race studies
  • Civil unrest and the internet
  • Queer internet
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Smart Devices/Smart Cities
  • Robots and/or automation
  • E-surveillance and e-governance
  • Design, coding and development of the internet and its protocols

Please send through your title and 150-200 word abstract to Jonathon Hutchinson [jonathon.hutchinson@sydney.edu.au] and Milly Stilinovic [milica.stilinovic@sydney.edu.au] with the subject line: Policy & Internet Special Issue by May 15 2021.


May 15 – Abstracts due

May 31 – Notification of Accepted Papers

September 30 – Full Papers Due

November 30 – Final Revisions Due

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash