About this Website

This website is conceived and managed by The Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based think tank, to gather evidence and present key data on emerging issues of platform regulation and intermediary liability in the digital age.

The liability exemption for online intermediaries, established in Europe in the electronic commerce directive (2000) and in the United States in the digital millennium copyright act (1998) and the U.S. communications decency act (section 230), has been the cornerstone of Internet regulation for more than 20 years. It has enabled the growth of online services and allowed an explosion of creativity through user-generated content while being flexible enough to restrict much harmful behaviour such as incitement to terrorism, crimes against children and other violations.

The new decade brings a wealth of new challenges. The small startups that defined the early Internet have become the largest companies in the world, delivering unimaginable choice and easy-to-use crossborder services to consumers – even as they overturned and redefined business models in many conventional sectors. Online actors – including state-owned institutions masquerading as ordinary citizens behind fake accounts – have used the Internet’s openness to sew discord and spread disinformation in democratic countries whose freedom is a direct threat to their one-party rule. Other groups have used the Internet’s radically decentralised power to organise – including many newly-formed representative groups but also groups that spread hate or foment non-scientific explanations of key public health issues.

At this crucial time, we hear calls from many sides for stronger regulation. Organisations like the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, the European Commission and even the United Nations are studying the problems and working on new initiatives.

More than ever, it is important that the debate is based on evidence rather than ideology. This website presents a systematic review of the evidence available on:

  • The Problems: What are the problems that arise from the increased adoption and growing role of platforms in the economy and society?
  • The Solutions: The world is a rich and fertile laboratory. Which policies have worked to deliver better social outcomes? And how and where might those solutions best be adapted and taken to scale?

The review covers the five traditional topics of intermediary liability: Illegal Content, Incitement to Terrorism, Disinformation, Hate Speech, Copyright Infringement. It aims to provide evidence for the debate and inspiration for policymakers. With the explore tool, you can visit all the datasets or focus on a specific topic. All charts and data are open source and downloadable. And, in the The Intermediary Liability Blog section, experts examine the conflicting approaches and emerging evidence in a series of data-driven commentaries and analysis.

You can also review and check the source material – everything is in the public record. And, last but not least, you can contribute yourself by posting evidence or pointing us in the direction of interesting, emerging studies. So long as the material meets our community standards, we will be delighted to add it to the Evidence Hub on the regulation of digital services . Indeed, like a platform itself, the Evidence Hub on the regulation of digital services grows and benefits from the feistiness and initiative of the community itself. We hope it will be of use in this crucial, ongoing debate.

Publication Policy

The Evidence Hub on the regulation of digital services is an open platform, and, like all open platforms, it requires some curation based on community standards. Evidence submitted through the “Contribute” page will receive a check from the Evidence Hub on the regulation of digital services team to verify its compliance with three simple guidelines:

  • The evidence must be relevant to key issues in the intermediary-liability debate;
  • The evidence must already be published and in the public domain;
  • The evidence must correspond accurately with the data presented in the original publication.

Publication on the Evidence Hub on the regulation of digital services does not imply an endorsement of the validity of the findings. The Evidence Hub on the regulation of digital services aims to gather as much evidence as possible from the widest set of sources. It does not establish what evidence is valid and what is not.

For more information, contact [email protected].

Sources of the charts

There are 101 sources available

About the Lisbon Council

The Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal asbl is a Brussels based think tank and policy network. Established in 2003 in Belgium as a non-profit, non-partisan association, the group is dedicated to making a positive contribution through cutting-edge research and by engaging political leaders and the public at large in a constructive exchange about the economic and social challenges of the 21st century. For more, visit www.lisboncouncil.net or follow the organisation on twitter at @lisboncouncil.