Envisioning Equitable Online Governance

A Collaboration with The Yale Law Journal

January 27, 2022

In the spring of 2021, we partnered with the editors of Yale Law Journal to commission a collection of papers examining how inequality manifests on social media platforms and in the digital public sphere. The resulting Essays analyze how race, gender, and other facets of identity shape people’s experience of and access to the digital public sphere and explore the harms minority groups suffer in these spaces. Several Essays chart paths for legislative reform. Anita L. Allen explores African Americans’ distinctive experience of discriminatory over-surveillance, exclusion and predation online, and evaluates pending legislation with an eye to race-conscious reform. Khiara M. Bridges argues that recent controversies over “cancel culture” and “Critical Race Theory” result from variations in the meaning of the terms, and reflect larger cultural and political divides. Mary Anne Franks examines the historical inequality that characterized the actual public square, and argues that embracing a multiplicity of shared spaces better serves the democratic ideal. Scott Skinner-Thompson argues that privacy protections are essential to creating a diverse public sphere, which, in turn, is essential to healthy public discourse. Olivier Sylvain argues that reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is necessary to shore up consumer protection and civil rights.

Adam Posluns and Elettra Bietti

Dismantling the ‘Black Opticon’: Privacy, Race Equity and Online Data Protection Reform

Anita L. Allen

Evaluating reforms in data privacy law from an African-American perspective

‘Cancel Culture,’ ‘Critical Race Theory,’ and The Digital Public Sphere

Khiara M. Bridges

Questioning the uses and abuses of “cancel culture” and “Critical Race Theory” in the digital public sphere

Beyond the Public Square: Imagining Digital Democracy

Mary Anne Franks

Designing a multiplicity of spaces for democratic deliberation

Agonistic Privacy & Equitable Democracy 

Scott Skinner-Thompson

Building privacy protections to further empower minorities and achieve a healthy public discourse

Platform Realism, Informational Inequality, and Section 230 Reform

Olivier Sylvain

Arguing for greater platform accountability in protecting consumers and minorities