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
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?
Public demands for internet platforms to intervene more aggressively in online content are steadily mounting. Calls for companies like YouTube and Facebook to fight problems ranging from “fake news” to virulent misogyny to online radicalization seem to make daily headlines. British prime minister Theresa May echoed the politically prevailing sentiment in Europe when she urged platforms to “go further and faster” in removing prohibited content, including through use of automated filters.
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.
"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.”"
"“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."
Lunch: 1:00 pm
Program: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
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.
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.