Martin Kretschmer “The Emergence of Platform Regulation in the UK – An Empirical Legal Study”

Public Lecture

Thursday 3 February 2022, 18:00 (BST)

The event is free to attend, but registration is required.  Please e-mail Prof. Dinusha Mendis at to book your place.


Platforms have emerged as a new kind of regulatory object. In this article, we empirically map the emergence of the regulatory field of platform regulation in one country, the United Kingdom. We focus on the 18-month period between September 2018 and February 2020 when an upsurge of regulatory activism reflected increasing sensitivity for regulatory sovereignty in the context of Brexit. Through a legal-empirical content analysis of eight official reports issued by the UK government, parliamentary committees and regulatory agencies, we code online harms to which regulation is being asked to respond; identify areas of law (such as data protection and privacy, competition, education, media and broadcasting, consumer protection, tax law and financial regulation, intellectual property law, security law); analyse agencies mentioned in the reports for their statutory and accountability status in law, and identify their centrality in the regulatory network and regulatory powers (advisory, investigatory, enforcement).

We show how online platforms are becoming proxies for the exercise of regulatory and state power. We argue that a focus on ‘online harms’ and a small number of Big Tech companies has engendered an epistemic blind spot regarding the processual questions that should be at the core of rule-governed regulation: how to monitor, trigger intervention, remove and prevent. Filtering and recommendation technologies, processes of notification, redress mechanisms, transparency and audit requirements lack sufficient public analysis.

Martin Kretschmer is Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of CREATe, the UK Copyright and Creative Economy Centre at the University of Glasgow. From 2018-2023 CREATe is part of the AHRC Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre (led by innovation foundation Nesta). From 2020-2023, CREATe also leads the creative industries stream of a major EU H2020 research consortium: reCreating Europe – Copyright law, cultural diversity and the Digital Single Market.

From 2000-2012, Martin was Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University.