Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet
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Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet

Edited by Ian Brown

The internet is now a key part of everyday life across the developed world, and growing rapidly across developing countries. This Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the latest research on internet governance, written by the leading scholars in the field.
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Chapter 15: Human rights, competition law, and access to essential technologies

Abbe Brown


The internet is acquiring ever more prominence in daily lives. In turn, some companies – such as Apple, Microsoft and Google – seem to acquire more power in society, as a result of their control of the technologies which enable one to access to internet, or make use of some of its opportunities. Further, those who cannot have access to the internet are less able to participate in some aspects of society. This chapter explores how different legal tools may be combined to address these power imbalances. The key question will be whether or not products or technologies can be argued to be “essential”; and if so, is this a helpful label – what does this mean for those wishing to use the products or technologies? Competition and human rights will be used to explore these questions, and some reference will made to intellectual property rights (“IP”) and to trade secrets, to the place they have in encouraging innovation and creativity, and their interaction with competition and human rights. It will be argued that competition and human rights can play a role in identifying essential technologies and delivering and proposing access to them.

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