Call for Papers: Communication Rights in the Digital Age

International Conference Organized by the Helsinki Media Policy Research Group, the University of Helsinki, the ECREA Communication Law and Policy Section and the Euromedia Research Group , and supported by the IAMCR Communication Policy & Technology Section.

24–25 October 2019, Helsinki, Finland

The rights-based perspective on ethical and political questions presented by the new digital media has recently regained attention in academic and political debates. The formulation of human rights in general is based on a communication right – freedom of expression – as well as a right to take part and be heard in a dialogue. In the digital era, the role of communication has been magnified.

Calls for the protection of citizens’ “digital rights,” for example, have resulted in countless reports and declarations by governments, international bodies and activist organizations over the past two decades. In addition to debates on the consequences of digital transformations for established rights, such as freedom of expression, new rights have been envisioned, such as “the right to be forgotten” and the right to internet access.

Thus far, there are more academic, public and policy debates than solid and sustainable legal and policy solutions. This is not surprising given the complexity of these rights, which have many context-based variations, operate on the cusp of theory and praxis, and are constantly evolving with technological advances. Communication rights refer not only to legal norms but also more broadly to the freedoms and norms that have special significance to societies and individuals.

Due to the importance of communication rights to societies and democracy, it is imperative to understand how those rights are defined, manifested, regulated and monitored today. The realization of communication rights is further shaped by economic, political and socio-cultural situations. What do we know about these contexts? How can we accumulate a better conceptual and empirical understanding of communication rights?

This conference will specifically address the interplay of national and global (universal and specific) characteristics of communication rights. Core questions include but are not limited to the following:

  • What are some definitions of communication rights?
    • What should be considered communication rights?
    • What is their relationship to human rights and/or natural rights?
    • How do communication rights differ from the classic reliance on speech rights as the basis for media regulation?
  • Who are the policy and other actors defining these rights in national and international contexts, and what are their roles in discursive and/or policy-making contexts?
    • How do different academic disciplines respond to the concept of communication rights?
    • How are rights interpreted in different empirical contexts?
      • For instance, communication rights and their position in national constitutions
  • What are current core issues or cases that pertain to communication rights? These may include but are not limited to
    • Market concentration, platforms and “big tech”: EU and national responses
      • For instance, platforms financing media and their influence on journalism
    • New policies for diversity; new tools and policies for media support and sustainability
      • For instance, media flows, cultural diversity and new policy tools, such as the Netflix tax, or old policy tools, such as quotas
    • The influence of party politics and populism (and the context of hate speech) on freedom of speech
    • Increasing state control of media outlets, including public broadcasters

We are especially interested in novel conceptual and theoretical interventions, but we also appreciate comparative empirical approaches.

Presenters will be invited to submit to a special issue of the Journal of Information Policy.


Confirmed keynote speaker:

Philip M. Napoli, James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy and Professor of the International Comparative Studies Program, Duke University, United States.



Please submit your proposal of max. 500 words, including your affiliation and contact information, by 15 May 2019 to

You will receive notification of acceptance by 15 June 2019.


Registration and fee:

Registration will be open 15 June through 15 October.

Registration fee: €100

Reduced student fee: €40

For more information and enquiries, please contact and and see: