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Smart(er) Internet Regulation Through Cost-Benefit Analysis

Winston J. Maxwell

Strengths and weaknesses of the proposed methodology and areas for future research

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Strengths of the methodology

I have attempted to present a better system for reviewing regulatory proposals designed to limit access to harmful content on the internet. My purpose is to bring more analytical rigor to the preparation of proposals. The impact assessment (questionnaire, cost-benefit analysis and accompanying steps) will require systematic consideration of:

  • what is likely to happen in the absence of regulatory intervention (the “baseline scenario” or “counterfactual”);
  • the benefits that the proposals seek to achieve, and how to measure them compared to the baseline (“success metrics”);
  • the direct and indirect costs that the regulatory proposals may generate, including those that are difficult or impossible to quantify in monetary terms; and
  • alternative approaches, both technical and institutional.

I explore whether the methodological rigor used for regulation of electronic communications in Europe could be used as a starting point for internet regulation. I also look at the p...

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