The Oxford Putney Debates 2020: The Sovereignty of Parliament

Parliamentary sovereignty is a fundamental principle shared by democracies around the world, based on the belief that political power should be subject to scrutiny by elected representatives accountable to the people they serve. 

Yet in recent years, this reciprocal democratic settlement between politicians and citizens has been under attack from nationalist authoritarian regimes, anti-liberal populist movements, and disinformation wars – so-called ‘fake news’ – designed to divide and mislead electorates. 

Regulation of Digital Media Platforms: The case of China


In this policy brief, Dr Jufang Wang reviews China's regulation of digital media platforms against the backdrop of the party-state's concerns that the platforms' increasing power as gatekeepers of online news and information may undermine its information control.

Dr Wang examines the adjustment of China’s online content regulatory framework from targeting individual speakers and publishers to targeting digital platforms, which are required to fulfil a series of content governance obligations, including the real-name registration and verification policy, conducting real-time content monitoring, and establishing a user blacklisting mechanism.

Her analysis covers the rationale behind the severe punishments handed down to private platforms for hosting problematic content deemed to be politically sensitive, vulgar, or disinformation, as well as the efforts of the CCP to ensure greater control of the editorial decision-making of these digital media companies at the boardroom level.

She considers whether the so-called ‘special management share’ initiative may be applied to larger platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, and discusses the implications for their global reputation and possible conflicts arising from their obligations under international jurisdictions as publicly listed companies in overseas stock markets.

Dr Jufang Wang is deputy director of the Platforms, Governance, and Global Society (PGG) programme in the Law, Justice and Society Research Cluster at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. Previously, Jufang was Vice Director of News at CRI Online (part of China Media Group, China’s equivalent of the BBC), and has been an academic visitor at the BBC (2011) and at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford (2014). 

Law and Contemporary Issues: The International Order Under Scrutiny

A workshop to scrutinize in-depth the transformation of the contemporary international order, as outlined in Professor Sir Adam Roberts' lecture of the previous day. Participants include Oxford Professor of Socio-Legal Studies Denis Galligan, international lawyer Mary Bartkus, social scientist Prof Ralph Schroeder, and economist Prof David Vines.

Distinguished philosopher Professor Sir Richard Sorabji re-enters the fray on free speech and social media

Distinguished philosopher Professor Sir Richard Sorabji re-entered the free speech debate in a lecture for the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society at Wolfson College last night by reprising his 2015 lecture on the theme with a renewed focus on fake news and social media.