Who is Responsible for Regulating the Internet from Illicit Content?

What is the Internet?

The internet is defined as a fragile construction of various components that make up the whole system. In this way, the hardware, software, standards, and databases that make up the internet are constrained in one way or the other. The internet is run by both private and public actors, which includes the owners of the applications we use today, the government, and even the user. With this in mind, it becomes apparent that every user of the internet should become responsible for their behavior in order to provide an internet space that is free of hate and crime.

The collective makeup of the internet has been able to survive following its unique model that has promoted a global partnership with its users worldwide. Drawing from relevant literature, this essay seeks to demonstrate the users, the government, co-operations, and various bodies with relevant authority are responsible for ensuring the internet is a safe space.

“Surveillance” by jonathan mcintosh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Digital Platforms

“Social Media Logos” by BrickinNick is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Digital platform companies have increased in number and relevance over the past few years. Since they are internet service providers, they should have a higher level of control over users (De Lanerolle, 2016). It is for this reason that these platforms have been under a lot of pressure from the government and regulatory authorities to ensure that the internet is a safe space for its users. Being a primary means of communication, digital platforms have also gained relevance as their role has transitioned. For instance, the internet has established the ability of users to create businesses and educative purposes, and it similarly promotes leisure activities. It has been a place that both young and old irrespective of age, can have access to, which calls for the need to promote regulation (Blumenthal, 2012). As such, the internet has so much power, which demands a greater level of regulation by digital companies. Some popular digital companies include Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, and Trip Advisor, just to mention a few.

The Power of the Internet

The internet as a powerful tool has manifested in various ways, as in the 2016 US Presidential election, where social media platforms were accused of interference in the election (Flew, 2019). Some of this purported interference includes the idea of fake news and propaganda that promoted a breach of privacy, the online misuse of data, and the manipulation of electoral politics. It is the same way that digital platforms have been accused of promoting terrorism, hate speech, and harassment of users. Internet regulators worldwide have taken a stance to promote awareness of the dangers of the internet and stand firm on digital platform companies to take responsibility for the regulation of behavior online. To put matters into perspective, Google was fined 2.4 million pounds because of allegations raised on anti-competitive practices connected to the profiling of users (Flew, 2019). Digital platform companies are the central connectors of users to digital platforms. For this reason, they should have control and authority in building the platforms to ensure they control users’ activities.

“Protect IP Act Breaks the Internet on Vimeo by Kirby Ferguson” by allispossible.org.uk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Role of the Government in Regulation of Digital Platforms

The government, in conjunction with other relevant bodies of authority and digital platforms, should take on the role of regulating the activities of the internet with openness. The unprecedented success that the internet enjoys today is because of the unique model of shared global ownership. Similarly, there is the idea of having open standards that seek to enhance the development of various technological innovations, processes as well as policy development (Internet Society, 2014). This means that every component, including the users, has to come together to promote the internet’s safety and safe use. The local, state and national governments should work closely with the various entities that make up the internet to ensure that the developed regulatory policies remain functional. For this reason, the government plays a vital role in regulation because it has the power to create and enforce policies that guide and regulate the internet (Hall, 2018). The government also has a say in inquiring about infrastructure development, such as regulating innovation, especially when the users are not ready for the changes. The government also plays a role in ensuring that in as much as the digitalization process is ongoing to ensure there is economic and societal development, it should work on ensuring newer policies are being developed to govern upcoming developments (Blumenthal, 2012). The government also plays a cybersecurity role where government protects the safety and security of users’ data. This role results from the collective effort of prominent governmental security agents such as the National Security Agency (NSA) to prevent cyberattacks. However, these efforts are not enough, and not enough laws have been developed to protect the user from negative and unsafe behaviors online. The government should also ensure that they work with digital platforms, which are the internet’s infrastructure providers. Digital platform companies provide the platforms that are a critical framework of the internet. As such, they should invest in the quality building of the physical internet infrastructure, which seeks to act as a network connecting users to the internet. The providers are not explicitly made up of digital platform companies but could also include other organizations that build the existing physical networks. Such organizations could provide services like terrestrial networks, cellular towers, submarine cables, and internet exchange points.

Role of the Civil Society

Civil society | Citizenship | High school civics | Khan Academy Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6_YVsuyUEM

The civil society, which largely consists of users, is the most important regulator when it comes to internet use. Users have the power to act as watchdogs to ensure that their rights are not violated (Internet Society, 2014). Civil society being highly diverse promotes a major source of discrepancies where users become a threat to themselves. Civil society is made up of a diverse group of individuals with different interests when it comes to internet use. Individuals restricting the content they consume, and their online engagement will significantly impact the adverse effects of the internet. For instance, it is by choice that an individual will not go to pornography websites. It is also the choice of a user to actively harass another user and infringe on their rights. Empowering internet users can also seek a solution for regulating internet use today. The internet structure that is apparent today can be resistant to any form of authority, and as such, the users have the power to shift this and control the way they interact with it and other users as well.

In conjunction with civil society, other organizations such as the internet community organizations and initiatives should be able to promote, foster, and deliver user education so that users are enlightened about how to engage in a safer environment while online (De Lanerolle, 2016). Similarly, other bodies and entities such as Internet Engineering Task Force are essential bodies that aim to ensure there are open channels and processes with the use of the internet. In this way, they also contribute to promoting a positive environment by working on strengthening the weaker links within the internet’s infrastructure. Generally, civil society should work towards ensuring everyone takes care of their own safety while online.


In conclusion, from the above discussion, this essay has examined the relevant bodies that are concerned with the regulation of online behavioral activities. In the contemporary world, bull bullying, harassment, violent content, hate, porn, and other problematic content continue to perverse online digital platforms. This essay has reflected the government, digital platform companies, civil society, and other relevant bodies as important contributors to the regulation of the internet. In order to restore order and just on the internet, the overall makeup should come together and foster this regulation by playing its role.


Blumenthal, M. S. (2012). Who should govern the internet? Issues in Science and Technology, 89. https://www.proquest.com/openview/b35676144b1de4b5a42d0731c8321371/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=32581

De Lanerolle, I. (2016). Reimagining how to govern the internet. Information Technologies & International Development, 75. https://itidjournal.org/index.php/itid/article/download/1507/1507-4214-1-PB.pdf>

Flew, T. F. (2019). Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal of Digital Media & Policy, 33-50. https://itidjournal.org/index.php/itid/article/download/1507/1507-4214-1-PB.pdf

Hall, K. O. (2018, December 7). Four Internets: The Geopolitics of Digital Governance. Center for International Governance and Innovation. Retrieved from CIGI: https://www.cigionline.org/publications/four-internets-geopolitics-digital-governance/

Internet Society. (2014, February 3). Who Makes the Internet Work: The Internet Ecosystem? Retrieved from Internet Society: https://www.internetsociety.org/internet/who-makes-it-work/