International Law of Global Digital Corporations
Global internet corporations (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter) have played leading roles in shaping the transnational digital order, enabled by light regulation and robust liability protection in the US. Their platforms make rules, and their lobbying has influenced both national regulators and international treaty negotiators especially in the digital trade chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and similar agreements. But these US companies are encountering increasing state and EU regulatory pushback, and a different approach prevails in China, the home of several world-leading internet companies (e.g. Alibaba, Huawei, Ten-Cent). All of these interactions spill over into some remaking of traditional international law. Part I of this course begins with basics about the Internet’s technological foundations, infrastructure, and governance. We then canvas core legal concepts and ideas about cyber-law, cyber-conflicts, and regulation (eg anti-trust, privacy, tort, jurisdiction, state responsibility) in global contexts. This includes a practical simulation and reflections on lawyering in a global digital corporation, assisted by a lawyer from Google. Students will learn about the interaction between lawyers, engineers, regulators, and other actors during the planning, launch, and operation of a digital product. In Part II, invited speakers from industry and academia discuss current controversies, novel technologies, and regulatory challenges. We seek collectively to distill from this some of the most promising ideas for rethinking international law in the digital era.