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.
These comments address the issue of transparency under the GDPR, as that topic arises in the context of Internet intermediaries and the “Right to Be Forgotten.” CIS Intermediary Liability Director Daphne Keller filed them in response to a public call for comments from the Article 29 Working Party – the EU-wide umbrella group of data protection regulators established under the 1995 Directive, soon to be succeeded by the European Data Protection Board established under the GDPR.
This Stanford Center for Internet and Society White Paper uses proposed US legislation, SESTA, as a starting point for an overview of Intermediary Liability models -- and their consequences. It draws on law and experience from both the US and countries that have adopted different models, and recommends specific improvements for SESTA and similar proposed legislation.
"It will set governments’ expectations about how they can use their leverage over internet platforms to effectively enforce their own laws globally,” said Daphne Keller, who studies platforms’ legal responsibilities at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and previously was Google’s associate general counsel."
"“Users are calling on online platforms to provide a moral code,” says Daphne Keller, director of the intermediary liability project at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society. “But we’ll never agree on what should come down. Whatever the rules, they’ll fail.” Humans and technical filters alike, according to Keller, will continue to make “grievous errors.”"
"Any effort to regulate social media companies and search engines would run up against a bevy of constitutional free speech questions. Legally, Trump doesn’t have any authority to change how Google displays search results, said Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
“By dictating what a private company does with search results, it legally would be like dictating what The Chronicle does with news reporting,” Keller said. “It would be a First Amendment violation.”"
"We don’t have nearly enough information to see the big picture and know what speech platforms are taking down. For the most part, we only find out when the speakers themselves learn that their posts or accounts have disappeared and choose to call public attention to it. But the idea that platforms’ rules are biased — and that this undermines democracy — isn’t new, and it isn’t unique to conservatives.
"“There should be a whole gradation of how this [software] should work,” Daphne Keller, the director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society (and mother of two), told Quartz. “We should be able to choose something in between, that is a good balance [between safety and surveillance], rather than forcing kids to divulge all their data without any control.”"
Stanford CIS brings together scholars, academics, legislators, students, programmers, security researchers, and scientists to study the interaction of new technologies and the law and to examine how the synergy between the two can either promote or harm public goods like free speech, innovation, privacy, public commons, diversity, and scientific inquiry
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.