This paper examines what role the law can and should play with regard to unreliable information available on fast communication networks, such as the Internet. Users of electronic information find it increasingly difficult to assess its reliability. The traditional structures for assessing reliability are lacking or function inadequately. Clear social norms have not yet been developed. As regards the law, traditionally liability law is the first legal guard against undesirable societal developments. We conclude however, that liability law is an inadequate remedy for unreliable information. Selfregulatoryinitiatives such as trust mark seals for websites providing reliable information offer a more promising perspective, although these also have their limitations, especially in the sphere of enforcement and legitimacy. In this paper, selfregulation is nonetheless hailed as an important instrument because it provides an indispensable testbed for more concrete legal norms derived from reliability criteria for information. Even if selfregulation may not completely materialise, discussion about selfregulation could be a stepping stone to the development of pertinent social norms.
Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 1, 2006
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