IViR Lecture: Regulating Big Tech expansionism? Sphere transgressions and the limits of Europe’s digital regulatory strategy

IViR is pleased to announce that
Prof. Tamar Sharon
will give a lecture entitled
“Regulating Big Tech expansionism?

on Friday 24 November 2023

The increasing power of Big Tech is a growing concern for regulators globally. The European Union has positioned itself as a leader in the stride to contain this expansionism; first with the GDPR and recently with a series of proposals including the DMA, the DSA, the AI Act, and others. In this lecture, based on this article written with Raphaël Gellert, Prof. Sharon analyses if these instruments sufficiently address the risks raised by Big Tech expansionism. In the article they argue that when this phenomenon is understood in terms of ‘sphere transgressions’ – i.e., conversions of advantages based on digital expertise into advantages in other spheres of society – Europe’s digital regulatory strategy falls short. In particular, seen through the lens of sphere transgressions, Big Tech expansionism raises three risks in addition to well-known privacy and data protection risks, which this regulatory strategy does not properly address. These are: non-equitable returns to the public sector; the reshaping of sectors in line with the interests of technology firms; and new dependencies on technology firms for the provision of basic goods. The analysis shows that this mismatch may be inherent to Europe’s digital strategy, insofar as it focusses on data protection – while data is not always at stake in sphere transgressions; on political and civil rights – while socio-economic rights may be more at risk; and on fair markets – while the sectors being transgressed into by Big Tech, such as health and education, are not markets that require fairer competition, but societal spheres which need protection from market (and digital) logics.

Tamar Sharon is Professor of Philosophy, Digitalization and Society, Chair of the Department of Ethics and Political Philosophy and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Hub for Digitalization and Society (iHub) at Radboud University. She researches how digitalization destabilizes public values and how best to protect them. She is a member of the EC’s European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies. She is currently PI of an ERC-funded project on the increased involvement of Big Tech in health

Date: 24 November 2023
Time: 15:30 – 16:45 CET (Amsterdam)
– IViR Room, REC A5.24, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166, 1018 WV Amsterdam.
– Online via Zoom (you will receive the Zoomlink via e-mail on the morning of the lecture).

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