Degree Name

Master of Philosophy


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


The functioning of existing legal categories and frameworks relies on the existence of specific characteristics of the world, which are taken for granted in the physical realm but do not exist in the digital realm. This is the core issue at the heart of many problems within the digital realm and has the effect of destabilising legal concepts and frameworks that modern societies rely upon. This thesis argues that digital platform holders, and other powerful players within the digital realm, have exploited failures of law in the digital realm to establish and protect an acutely asymmetrical power imbalance between the corporations that control access to cyberspace and individual users. I argue that the Public-Private distinction has been distorted to the extent that public space, as understood in economic and political theory, effectively does not exist online. I explain how Digital Contract Law is used both to force users to relinquish rights as a condition of entry into the digital realm, and to provide a veneer of legitimacy for this situation. I argue further that the ambiguities surrounding both Digital Jurisdiction and Digital Property have in practice been settled in a way that unfairly privileges the interests of an oligopoly of digital corporations over the public interest. Ultimately, I conclude that the legal frameworks designed to benefit digital platform holders, at the expense of individual users, must be reformed to prevent further damage to citizens' civil and economic rights.

FoR codes (2008)

160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy, 220103 Ethical Use of New Technology (e.g. Nanotechnology, Biotechnology), 220104 Human Rights and Justice Issues, 220204 History and Philosophy of Law and Justice



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.