Apr 25, 2011
From Mark Cooper:
What is the problem this idea addresses, why does it matter?
While crowd sourcing is a growing phenomenon in cyberspace, it has yet to become an important and stable part of regulatory enforcement. Mark Cooper, Director of Research for the Consumer Federation of America, argues in his presentation, “Building a Platform for Participatory Regulation in the Digital Information Age,” (2011) that it can and should be an important part of the public sphere in the digital age, but it will not achieve the stature it deserves without active implementation and management. The project proposes both conceptual (design) and practical (implementation) steps to show the potential effectiveness of crowd sourcing enforcement. The template developed in this project will be generally applicable for similar activities dealing with the Internet and non-Internet related rules.
What is the goal of the idea?
This proposal seeks to use the Internet to improve the Internet by tapping into the unique ability of the Internet to unleash viral communications. At the same time, it endeavors to “organize” those communications in a structured, task oriented-activity that impacts a formal regulatory process.
How does the idea work?
This project will create an institutional framework of structured viral communications to inject crowd sourcing of enforcement into three “rules” recently adopted by three federal agencies that seek to enhance the consumer experience on the Internet.
• Privacy condition in the Federal Trade Commission’s Google-buzz settlement
• Network Neutrality in the recent Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Industry Practices Proceeding
• Conditions on the Comcast-NBCU merger imposed by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.
Crowd sourcing will not become an important part of the regulatory structure if it does not improve the functioning of regulatory oversight in two ways – exposing abuse and securing corrective action. The ability of crowd sourcing enforcement to do so will be greatly enhanced if it is embedded in a structured environment that channels the power of viral communications. Structured viral communications are an emerging form of communications that is transforming the nature of collective action in many different fields, as described in Mark Cooper’s paper, “Structured Viral Communications; The Political Economy and Social Organization of Digital Disintermediation” (2011).