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Protecting Public Morals in a Digital Age: Revisiting the WTO Rulings on US -- Gambling and China -- Publications and Audiovisual Products


  • Panagiotis Delimatsis


Values such as promoting free trade in services or protecting public morality coexist in a perilous balance nowadays. This peril appears to be exacerbated by the manifold possibilities of supplying services that the digital age brings with it. Technological advances and innovations transform the manner that services are supplied and call for swift reaction by regulatory authorities. Furthermore, electronic communications erode long-standing traditions in regulating various services industries (supply side) and consumer behaviour (consumption side) and sometimes allow for easy circumvention of law. The US -- Gambling and China -- Audiovisual Products rulings are the first pronouncements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) judiciary on the possible clash between trade expansion, on the one hand, and protection of public morals, on the other. After a critical review of these two important recent rulings on the concept of public morality and its treatment by the WTO judiciary, the article goes on to discuss the changing scope of regulatory sovereignty regarding the protection of public morality in a digital landscape; the paradigm shift in regulatory approaches that technological advances bring about; and the role of courts and non-state actors in the regulation of cyberspace. Oxford University Press 2011, all rights reserved, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Panagiotis Delimatsis, 2011. "Protecting Public Morals in a Digital Age: Revisiting the WTO Rulings on US -- Gambling and China -- Publications and Audiovisual Products," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 257-293, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:14:y:2011:i:2:p:257-293

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