Eroding exceptionalism: Internet firms’ legal immunity is under threat

It is contended that giant internet firms such as Google and Facebook like to view their rapid rise as the product of their founders’ brilliance. Others argue that their success is more a result of lucky timing and network effects – the economic forces that tend to make bigger firms even bigger. But often forgotten, is another overlooked reason for their triumph:  Online platforms have been inhabiting a “parallel legal universe”, which is to say that they have benefited greatly from special legal and regulatory treatment. Generally, they are not legally responsible, either for what their users do or for the harm that their services may cause in the real world. However, it is becoming ever clearer that this era of digital exceptionalism cannot last for ever…

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