Public Knowledge Releases Paper on Online Platforms and Due Process

New paper recommends that dominant internet platforms provide users with due process.

Today, Public Knowledge launched a new paper, “Even Under Kind Masters: A Proposal To Require that Dominant Platforms Accord Their Users Due Process.” This is part of our broader work calling for strict antitrust enforcement, stronger privacy and cybersecurity protections, and development of appropriate regulatory standards.

The paper recommends that dominant online platforms be required to provide their users with “due process,” that is, procedural protections that ensure fairness, when the platforms wish to take an action that may be detrimental to the user.

It argues that the principles of due process are a way to ensure that individuals are treated fairly by large institutions — whether they are public or private. It recommends a robust set of procedural protections adopted from leading legal scholars and proposes a way of determining “dominance” that is informed by the history of communications law.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Nearly every week, some example of an unfair, overbroad, or mistaken action by a major online platform hits the news. As these platforms have become ever-more important in people’s lives, for staying in touch with friends and family, for employment, and as sources of information, these actions can have devastating consequences for individuals.

“Due process protections are not the only tool that policymakers should consider. But whatever other regulatory, antitrust, or other actions may be needed, the users of dominant platforms should have, among other things, clear explanations of why the platform proposes to take its action, the ability to challenge actions proposed to be taken against them including the presentation of additional evidence or context, and the ability to have their matters resolved by a truly independent decision-maker that explains its reasoning. The paper explains each of these points, and more.”

You can learn more about the paper and our work on dominant online platforms in our recent blog post, “Due Process, and Our Approach to Dominant Online Platforms.” You can download the paper here.