Nations vary in the degree and scope to which they regulate the media. In Europe, regulation is centered around media ownership, less so around content. In the People’s Republic of China, content deemed inappropriate by the government is regulated by a slew of agencies.
Some regions of the world are already or are becoming more regulated:
- In the European Union in 2009, lawmakers created a telecommunications regulator called the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC). Until this time, some European states could ignore or defy EU telecommunications law if doing so would harm their national telephone monopolies. For example, Germany allowed Deutsche Telekom—32 percent of which is still owned by the national government—to bar competitors from using its super-high-speed VDSL broadband network (O’Brien, 2009). BEREC is currently investigating business malpractices of large communication companies while it seeks to establish itself. This is pursuant to its stated mission of being “committed to independent, consistent, high-quality regulation of electronic communications markets for the benefit of Europe and its citizens” (BEREC, 2013).
- In the People’s Republic of China, policy changes by the government in the late 1970s had a widespread and profound effect on most aspects of Chinese society, including the media. The period of 1980-1999 saw the deregulation of media content and a decrease in subsidies of media industries (Donald, 2002). Before deregulation and the ending of subsidies, the government issued content guidelines which media agencies would follow. After deregulation and the ending of subsidies, media agencies have greater freedoms in creating content, although subjects deemed taboo by the government are still heavily regulated and sometimes even censored. In 2012 a watchdog group ranked China 174 out of 179 for freedom of press. Journalists are often imprisoned for violating rules. Websites that it deems dangerous, such as Wikipedia, are often blocked (Bennett, 2013). Most recently, the government censored a liberal leaning newspaper based in Guangzhou, resulting in a week-long confrontation between the government and the newspaper (Bennett, 2013).
Google’s Vint Cerf on the Future of Internet Regulation
Vint Cerf, known as one of the “fathers” of the Internet and current Google executive, spoke to Informilo about the future of Internet regulation: http://www.informilo.com/20090302/googles-vint-cerf-future-internet-regulation-86