Daphne Keller is the Director of Intermediary Liability at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society. Her work focuses on platform regulation and Internet users' rights. She has published both academically and in popular press; testified and participated in legislative processes; and taught and lectured extensively. Her recent work focuses on legal protections for users’ free expression rights when state and private power intersect, particularly through platforms’ enforcement of Terms of Service or use of algorithmic ranking and recommendations. Until 2015 Daphne was Associate General Counsel for Google, where she had primary responsibility for the company’s search products. She worked on groundbreaking Intermediary Liability litigation and legislation around the world and counseled both overall product development and individual content takedown decisions.
High Res Photo of Daphne Keller
Most people I talk to think that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies should take down ugly-but-legal user speech. Platforms are generally applauded for taking down racist posts from the White Nationalist demonstrators in Charlottesville, for example. I see plenty of disagreement about exactly what user-generated content should come down -- breastfeeding images? Passages from Lolita? Passages from Mein Kampf? But few really oppose the basic predicate of these removals: that private companies can and should be arbiters of permissible speech on their platforms.*
Alarm bells are sounding around the Internet about proposed changes to one of the US’s core Intermediary Liability laws, Communications Decency Act Section 230 (CDA 230). CDA 230 broadly immunizes Internet platforms against legal claims based on speech posted by their users. It has been credited as a key protection for both online expression and Internet innovation in the US. CDA 230 immunities have limits, though. Platforms are not protected from intellectual property claims (mostly handled under the DMCA) or federal criminal claims.
In its Equustek ruling in June, the Canadian Supreme Court held that Google must delete search results for users everywhere in the world, based on Canadian law. Google has now filed suit in the US, asking the court to confirm that the order can’t be enforced here. Here’s my take on that claim.
The Canadian Supreme Court this morning issued its long-awaited ruling in Equustek. The court upheld an order compelling Google to remove search results for specified websites, not just in Canada, but everywhere in the world.
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.
"“I don’t think there’s a chance that major economies like the E.U. are going to accept C.D.A. 230” said Daphne Keller, the director of intermediary liability at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. “So I’m not sure what the net effect is.”"
"“There has been real mission creep with the right to be forgotten,” said Daphne Keller, a lawyer at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society. “First it was supposed to be about information found using search engines, but now we see it affecting news reporting.”"
"Hate speech that isn’t an imminent threat is still protected by the Constitution, noted Daphne Keller, a researcher at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society and a former associate general counsel for Google. “A law can’t just ban it. And Congress can’t just tell platforms to ban it, either — that use of government power would still violate the First Amendment,” she said."
"“It’s really important to understand how much Europe is in the driver’s seat,” says Daphne Keller, director of Intermediary Liability at the Center for Internet and Society, as well as former associate general counsel at Google. “It kind of doesn’t matter what U.S. law says for a lot of things. Europe is extracting agreements by companies — they're going to enforce those agreements publicly.”"
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.
The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School and a part of Law, Science and Technology Program at Stanford Law School.
When you give sites and services information about yourself, where does it go? Who else will get hold of it, and what will they use it for? The recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica's acquisition of data about tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent have prompted renewed interest in how data about us gets shared, sold, used, and misused -- well beyond what we ever expected. Join us for a SLATA/CIS lunchtime conversation with three experts from Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society as we discuss the legal and policy implications of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and responses from Congress and courts. How can we prevent this from happening again? What new problems might we create through poorly-crafted legal responses?
Vinton G. Cerf is one of the founding fathers of the internet, and on Wednesday, February 28th, he will be on Canada 2020’s stage for an exclusive event.
Tickets are free and open to the public, but available in limited quantities. Click below to secure yours.
Known most for being the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the modern Internet, Vint will join us in Ottawa to talk about online citizenship, the right to be forgotten, and state of the modern internet.
Privacy and free speech aren't fundamentally opposed, but they do have a tendency to come into conflict — and recent developments in Europe surrounding the right to be forgotten have brought this conflict into focus. This week, we're joined by Daphne Keller of Stanford's Center For Internet And Society to discuss the collision between these two important principles.