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Opening Academic Year: Study Award presented to Cherelle de Leeuw

Date of news: 7 September 2022

The faculty congratulates Cherelle de Leeuw on receiving the Study Award 2022. The Study Award is an annual prize for students who have written a thesis of exceptional quality. The theses are written in the previous academic year. The Study Awards were presented during the Opening Academic Year on 5 September 2022. Cherelle de Leeuw won the prize for her thesis called: ‘The Hold Digital Platforms Have On Us. On freedom of expression & the libertarian case for state intervention.’ You can read the abstract of her thesis below.

"The rise in popularity of digital platforms like Google and Facebook has affected the way people communicate and access information, the two building blocks of freedom of expression. This thesis explores the ways in which freedom of expression works and shows the value of free speech for individuals and societies. Several arguments illustrate why and how digital platforms affect a number of these functions, among others through data tracking, algorithms and bypassing consent. The affected functions of free speech that are analyzed are autonomy, self-ownership and rights, truth and knowledge, and the republican ideal.

Using Robert Nozick’s deontological libertarian framework, this thesis makes an unlikely argument in favor of state intervention in the working of digital platforms, as they violate the moral side constraints and entitlement theory of justice that are central to a Nozickian approach. To analyze how a deontological libertarian framework would function empirically, the 2020 EU and 2021 U.S. proposals for state intervention are analyzed, focusing on non-violation of autonomy."