Daphne Keller studies the ways that Internet content platforms – and the laws governing them -- shape information access and other rights of ordinary Internet users. As the Director of Intermediary Liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, she has written and spoken widely about the Right to Be Forgotten, copyright notice-and-takedown systems, cross-border content removal orders, platforms’ own discretionary content-removal decisions, and more. She has testified on these topics before legislatures, courts, and regulatory bodies around the world. In her previous role as Associate General Counsel at Google, Daphne worked on cases including Viacom, Perfect 10, Equustek, Mosley, and Metropolitan Schools; and was the primary counsel for products ranging from Web Search to the Chrome browser. Daphne has taught Internet law at Stanford, Berkeley, and Duke law schools. She is a graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, and mother to some awesome kids in San Francisco.
High Res Photo of Daphne Keller
The EU’s proposed Terrorist Content Regulation gives national authorities sweeping new powers over comments, videos, and other content that people share using Internet platforms. Among other things, authorities – who may be police, not courts – can require platforms of all sizes to take content down within one hour. The Regulation also requires even small platforms to build upload filters and attempt to proactively weed out prohibited material.
I have a new article coming out, called Who Do You Sue? State and Platform Hybrid Power over Online Speech. It is about free expression rights on platforms like Facebook or Twitter, which the Supreme Court has called “the modern public square.” One section is about speakers suing platforms. It looks at cases – over thirty so far – where users argue that companies like Facebook or Twitter have violated their free expression rights by taking down legal speech that is prohibited under the platforms’ Community Guidelines.
Two important current trends in Internet law go together in ways that aren’t getting enough attention. They should, though, because the overlap is well on its way to messing up the Internet further.
Are Internet platforms distorting our political discourse by silencing conservatives? If they were, could Congress pass a law forcing them to play fair?
This essay closely examines the effect on free-expression rights when platforms such as Facebook or YouTube silence their users’ speech. The first part describes the often messy blend of government and private power behind many content removals, and discusses how the combination undermines users’ rights to challenge state action. The second part explores the legal minefield for users—or potentially, legislators—claiming a right to speak on major platforms.
On Tuesday, in a courtroom in Luxembourg, the Court of Justice of the European Union is to consider whether Google must enforce the “right to be forgotten” — which requires search engines to erase search results based on European law — everywhere in the world.
Policymakers increasingly ask Internet platforms like Facebook to “take responsibility” for material posted by their users. Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders seem willing to do so. That is in part a good development. Platforms are uniquely positioned to reduce harmful content online. But deputizing them to police users’ speech in the modern public square can also have serious unintended consequences. This piece reviews existing laws and current pressures to expand intermediaries’ liability for user-generated content.
If you paid attention to Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress last month, you might have gotten the impression that the internet consists entirely of titanic, California-based companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google. Congress is right to call these companies to account for outsize harms like disclosing personal data about many millions of users. But it is very wrong to act as though these companies are representative of the whole internet.
"“When lawmakers create new rules that have never been tested by courts – like Australia's new law or the rules proposed in the UK's White Paper – and then tell platforms to enforce them, we can only expect that a broad swathe of perfectly legal speech is going to disappear,” said Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Centre for Internet and Society.
"The issue highlights the pressure on many internet platforms to attract customers by presenting a critical mass of listings to demonstrate scale, says Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. She added that inactive or false listings don’t produce a good customer experience either. “You don’t want to have a bunch of listings in there that turn out to be dead ends,” Ms. Keller said. A Care.com spokeswoman declined to comment on Ms. Keller’s assessment."
"“Its role in enabling a certain kind of technical innovation is unambiguous,” says Daphne Keller at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. “It made it possible for investors to get behind companies who were in the business of transmitting so much speech and information that they couldn't possibly assess it all and figure what was legal or illegal.”
""The bottom line of the case is that its legal merits barely matter, because the point is political theater," Daphne Keller, the director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Hill.
"As theater, I suspect it will be quite successful.""
"Ultimately, the use case for purely AI-driven content moderation is fairly narrow, says Daphne Keller, the director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, because nuanced decisions are too complex to outsource to machines.
“If context does not matter at all, you can give it to a machine,” she told me. “But, if context does matter, which is the case for most things that are about newsworthy events, nobody has a piece of software that can replace humans.”"
Internet platforms like Facebook and Twitter play an ever-increasing role in our lives, and mediate our personal and public communications. What laws govern their choices about our speech? Come discuss the law of platforms and online free expression with CIS Intermediary Liability Director Daphne Keller.
Cybersecurity is increasingly a major concern of modern life, coloring everything from the way we vote to the way we drive to the way our health care records are stored. Yet online security is beset by threats from nation-states and terrorists and organized crime, and our favorite social media sites are drowning in conspiracy theories and disinformation. How do we reset the internet and reestablish control over our own information and digital society?
"Daphne Keller, a specialist in corporate liability and responsibility at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, says Facebook could face private lawsuits over privacy."
""Half the time it's, 'Oh no, Facebook didn't take something down, and we think that's terrible; they should have taken it down,' " says Daphne Keller, a law professor at Stanford University. "And the other half of the time is, 'Oh no! Facebook took something down and we wish they hadn't.' "
Full episode of "Bloomberg West." Guests include Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, David Kirkpatrick, Techonomy's chief executive officer, Radu Rusu, chief executive officer and co-founder of Fyusion, Crawford Del Prete, IDC's chief research officer, and Daniel Apai, assistant professor at The University of Arizona.