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Virtual spaces and virtual layers – governing the ungovernable?

Barker K (2016) Virtual spaces and virtual layers – governing the ungovernable?, Information and Communications Technology Law, 25 (1), pp. 62-70.

Online multi-user platforms like World of Warcraft and Twitter have one common regulatory mechanism; the End-User License Agreement (EULA). This document forms the cornerstone of the regulatory system within each of these spaces. Yet it is regularly contravened by users and providers alike. These agreements are very often the only forms of control or regulation that are present in online environments and therefore control more than user behaviour. Yet these platforms also share another feature: virtual disputes, but these are no longer confined online. Threats of violence and other criminal offences arise too, with examples including the abuse issued to Criado-Perez, and more recently, Flipovic. Criado-Perez suffered Twitter abuse and Flipovic was victimised on online message boards. Cyberspace was once deemed to be free from governmental control but the increasing disputes suggest there is now a need to consider how users of spaces such as online games, virtual worlds and social media are protected. Is it fair and practical to leave regulation to EULAs? How do users achieve redress for wrongs – through online and in-site governance mechanisms or wider controls? This work will consider some of these issues, and will suggest that there is now a need for additional layers of regulation to fill the ‘responsibility gap’ left between EULAs and the offline legal mechanisms.

virtual spaces; regulation; law; layers; EULA

AuthorsBarker Kim
Publication date2016
Publication date online14/01/2016
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN 1360-0834

Information and Communications Technology law: Volume 25, Issue 1

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