please find attached a call for papers for a panel at the ECPR General
Conference in Wrocław (4 - 7 September).
Title of the panel: *The Relationship between Digital Platforms and
Government Agencies in Surveillance: Oversight of or by Platforms?*
Submit paper proposals via the ECPR website no later then *15 February
Revelations of surveillance practices like those of the National
Security Agency or Cambridge Analytica have shown that the digital age
is developing into an age of surveillance. What said revelations have
also shown is that digital platforms are significantly contributing to
this development. As intermediaries between communications and business
partners platforms enjoy a privileged position (Trottier 2011). Platform
increasingly use this position by surveilling and manipulating end users
for the sake of profit maximization (Fuchs 2011, Zuboff 2015). Platforms
with a business model of surveillance and manipulation, seem to have
become the most successful type of corporations of today. Already two of
the three most valuable corporations are operating as such platforms.
While platforms are emerging and expanding in ever more established as
well as new markets and thus gain influence on large parts of society,
the question arises how states are dealing with these new actors and
their capabilities. The panel is intended to provide answers to this
question by studying the spectrum of state-platform relations.
As empirical examples show, the relationship between digital platforms
and the states is multi-faced. On the one hand public institutions are
partnering with private platforms. The data from platforms is used for
example by intelligence agencies to combat terrorist groups, by police
departments to search for criminal suspects and by regulatory agencies
to counter hate speech or violations of copyrights.
On the other hand, the capabilities of platforms can also be turned
against the state. As the last US presidential elections showed
platforms can be utilized to influence the electorate or to compromise
From the point of view of the platforms, the state represents on the one
hand an instance that may restricts their actions as it declares
specific types of business activity illegal. The new general data
protection regulation of the EU is one example.
At the same time, states are providing the legal basis for the
platforms’ activities. In order to promote e-commerce for example many
European states liberalized their privacy regulation in the beginning of
the new millennium.
These examples illustrate the diversity in platform-state relations. The
panel will acknowledge this diversity and will bring together works
considering various empirical cases as well as theoretical frameworks.
We welcome contributions focusing on different political systems as well
as different platforms like for example social media, retail, transport
or cloud computing platforms.
Exemplary questions that may be addressed are:
• Which major privacy, anti-trust or media regulations of platforms
where enacted on the national level recently? Which types of platforms
were addressed and which were not? In how far do these regulations
resemble a general trend? To which degree do they effect surveillance
• In which areas and by which means of surveillance are platforms
already enforcing public policies? Which kind of data is provided by
platforms for predictive policing? How are platforms identifying and
depublishing illegal content? When are platforms collaborating with
• How can platforms be regulated efficiently? Which forms of regulations
between hierarchical regulation and self-regulation exist and how did
these forms emerge? In how far is oversight of platforms comparable to
oversight by platforms?
• Are policies of platform regulation defusing? If so, which states are
setting the standards?
• Which international institutions in the field of platform regulation
were created so far? Is an international regime of platform regulation
Dr. Abel Reiberg
John F. Kennedy Institut | Freie Universität Berlin
Lansstr. 7-9 14195 Berlin
Tel: +49 30 838 65125
This is a message from the SURVEILLANCE listserv
for research and teaching in surveillance studies.
To unsubscribe, please send the following message to
<[log in to unmask]>:
For further help, please visit: