This blog post outlines the main arguments of the authors’ next piece “Sanctions on digital platforms – beyond the public/private divide”, to be published in the December 2019 issue of the Cambridge International Law Journal. It seeks to illustrate how digital platforms can set up “hard” mechanisms to regulate users’ behaviours and thus go beyond the “soft” regulation through design of the platform.
“Hard” mechanisms mean that digital platforms unilaterally exercise their power to withdraw or curtail users’ access and/or actions on the platform to remedy a violation of a public policy or a contract. For instance, if an Uber driver commits an offence, Uber has a duty to investigate the issue and would have to take necessary measures to prevent the driver to reoffend – maybe blocking his account. Digital platforms impose these kinds of sanction to police undesirable behaviour.