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date: 14 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Over the years, the discussion concerning the responsibilities of online service providers (OSPs) has gone from defining measures that OSPs should deploy to correct their market bias and ensure a pluralistic web, to the impact that OSPs have on the internet, on the flourishing of democratic values, and on societies at large. The debate spans different fields, from information and computer ethics, corporate social responsibilities, and business ethics, to computer-mediated communication, law, and public policy. Topics of analyses range from biases and skewing of information indexed by search engines, the protection of users’ privacy and security, to the impact of OSPs on democratic processes, and their duties with respect to human rights. This chapter investigates the ethical implications of intermediary liability. First, it describes the debate on the moral responsibilities of OSPs with respect to managing access to information and human rights. It then analyses the role and the nature of the responsibilities of OSPs in mature information societies. The chapter concludes its review by applying Floridi’s soft ethics to consider what responsibilities the civic role of OSPs entails and how they should discharge them.

Keywords: moral responsibility, ethics, civic role, access to information, human rights, information society

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