Policing through Digital Dragnets: Internet Intermediaries’ Regulation of Illegal Pharmacies
This paper argues that governments, especially that of the United States, play a key role in directing specific regulatory outcomes, often strategically employing the narrative of ‘voluntary intermediary-led’ regulation. The paper contends that government-directed, intermediary-facilitated enforcement enables intermediaries to shape standards that privilege western legal, economic, and political preferences. As a result, these mostly U.S.-based intermediaries are concentrating power in ways that serve their commercial interests and the U.S. government’s economic and national security interests. To make this argument, the paper explores the creation of a private regulatory program, backed by the U.S. government, called the Centre for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP). CSIP is an industry-run association that brings together the pharmaceutical industry with Internet intermediaries to target and dismantle illegal online pharmacies. Through CSIP, the U.S. government can extend its reach to govern actors outside its legal jurisdiction and compel intermediaries to act as regulators to govern wrongdoing by third parties.