Internet service providers as law enforcers and adjudicators. A public role of private actors?

Private actors have become increasingly involved in the law enforcement process in recent years, taking up more proactive roles and being increasingly engaged in choices between conflicting rights and freedoms. The development and spread of information and communication technology (ICT) created a set of conditions in which the participation of these private actors appears to be a necessity. While executing these roles they may be compelled – de jure or de facto – to make value judgments which traditionally belong to the public authorities. However, the legal framework is either lacking or it does not fully cover the consequences of this fundamental paradigm shift, to the detriment of the authorities, private actors and persons concerned.

The objective of this paper is to examine the resulting key legal problems of these developments. The author argues that the current legislative initiatives are insufficient and a deeper rethinking of the role of private actors is necessary.