Re-Conceptualizing the Global Digital Divide

Burri, Mira (2011). Re-Conceptualizing the Global Digital Divide. Journal of intellectual property, information technology and electronic commerce law JIPITEC, 2(3), pp. 217-225. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

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The article seeks a re-conceptualization of the global digital divide debate. It critically explores the predominant notion, its evolution and measurement, as well as the policies that have been advanced to bridge the digital divide. Acknowledging the complexity of this inequality, the article aims at analyzing the disparities beyond the connectivity and skills barriers. Without understating the first two digital divides, it is argued that as the Internet becomes more sophisticated and more integrated into economic, social, and cultural processes, a “third” generation of divides becomes critical. These divides are drawn not at the entry to the net but within the net itself, and limit access to content. The increasing barriers to content, though of a diverse nature, all relate to some governance characteristics inherent in cyberspace, such as global spillover of local decisions, regulation through code, and proliferation of self- and co-regulatory models. It is maintained that as the practice of intervention intensifies in cyberspace, multiple and far-reaching points of control outside formal legal institutions are created, threatening the availability of public goods and making the pursuit of public objectives difficult. This is an aspect that is rarely addressed in the global digital divide discussions, even in comprehensive analyses and political initiatives such as the World Summit on the Information Society. Yet, the conceptualization of the digital divide as impeded access to content may be key in terms of ensuring real participation and catering for the long-term implications of digital technologies.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > World Trade Institute
10 Strategic Research Centers > World Trade Institute

02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > NCCR International Trade Regulation
02 Faculty of Law > Department of Economic Law > Institute of European and International Economic Law

UniBE Contributor:

Burri, Mira


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 380 Commerce, communications & transportation
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 340 Law




Karlsruhe Institute of Technology




Tihomira Burri

Date Deposited:

26 Aug 2014 16:39

Last Modified:

31 May 2017 10:45




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