Algorithms as regulatory objects

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The recent dispersion of algorithms throughout a large part of social life makes them valid analytical objects for sociology in the twenty-first century. The ubiquity of algorithms has led to increased public attention, scrutiny and, consequently, regulation. That is the focus of this paper. I will show that such regulatory processes are not just aimed at preventing certain algorithmic activities, but that they are also co-producing algorithms. They determine, in specific settings, what an algorithm is and what it ought to do. I will illustrate this by comparing two different European regulations aimed at algorithmic practices: the regulation of trading algorithms in the German High Frequency Trading Act and in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II), and the regulation of personal data processing in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).




Seyfert, R. (2021). Algorithms as regulatory objects. Information Communication and Society.

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