Edoardo Celeste on digital constitutionalism

The Editors

Constitutional laws were written for the 'analogue world', and address situations in which states are the dominant actors per excellence that can impact the rights of individuals, and might negatively affect the balance and separation of power. Much has changed over the last few decades. According to Edoardo Celeste from the Dublin City University, the 'digital revolution' has had both positive and negative effects on the ways in which individuals can experience and exercise their rights and freedoms. While on the one hand, the emergence of the internet gives individuals access to information — which they can use, for instance, for their personal, democratic empowerment —, our current use of the internet also threatens our right to privacy, and makes it more easy for dominant actors to surveil and control groups and individuals.

On top of that, it should also be noted that states are no longer the only dominant actors. Major tech corporations rule their regions of the internet through their codes, and perform as judges over their digital subjects. These corporations, however, are not bound by the same constitutional principles as states, nor are they obliged to take into accounts human rights. As a result, the individuals on their online platforms are, for instance, often unable to challenge decisions that were made by these platforms. Major tech corporations don't need to be fully transparent, and their leaders don't need to be elected through a democratic process. Even though tech corporations control large parts of the digital dimension of society, they mostly seem to answer to their stakeholders, not to their individual users.

To address this challenging situation — a 'constitutional moment' —, Celeste has recently published two books: Digital Constitutionalism: The Role of Internet Bills of Rights (2022) and The Content Governance Dilemma: Digital Constitutionalism, Social Media and the Search for a Global Standard (2023) — which was co-authored by Nicola Palladino, Dennis Redeker and Kinfe Yilma. In these books, Celeste examines 'Internet bills of rights' and content governance practices to reveal how a new balance of power might come into being in the future; a balance of power that must include the role of major tech corporations.

Edoardo Celeste on digital constitutionalism



Celeste, E. (2022). Digital constitutionalism: The Role of Internet Bills of Rights. Routledge Research in the Law of Emerging Technologies.

Celeste, E., Palladino, N., Redeker, D., & Yilma, K. (2023). The content governance dilemma: Digital Constitutionalism, Social Media and the Search for a Global Standard. Palgrave Macmillan.