Andrew McLaughlin to Join Stanford Law School's Center for Internet & Society

Andrew McLaughlin, until recently the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States, is joining the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society as a non-residential fellow.

In addition to researching and writing on issues of Internet regulation, cybersecurity, and innovation policy, McLaughlin will teach a course in the fall looking at the laws and practices that define, protect, and limit freedom of expression around the globe. The course, “Freedom of Speech in a Digitally Interconnected World”, will examine a set of differing national approaches to the regulation of speech and expression, aiming at a deeper understanding of the First Amendment and its values in today’s context of borderless digital interconnection.

According to McLaughlin, Americans tend to under-appreciate the extent to which the First Amendment, as interpreted by our federal courts, is exceptional, both in the breadth of its protections and the peculiarity of its limitations and exceptions. “We also tend to equate our expansive First Amendment with democracy, and censorship with dictatorship,” he said, “but in practice nearly all other countries, including many vibrant democracies, have fashioned regimes for speech regulation that are notably more restrictive than ours.”

The course will begin with a systematic look at the principal theories and justifications asserted to support state limitations on citizen speech and press activities; then will delve into country case studies, including India, Germany, Thailand, Turkey, Indonesia, Australia, Iran, Russia, and South Korea; and finally, will evaluate the ability of conflicting national systems to coexist in the age of the Internet.

Says McLaughlin: “Beyond standard legal analysis, the course will dig into the distinctive technical architectures and evolving social and cultural forces that have made the Internet (a) increasingly significant as a medium of individual and organizational expression, and (b) remarkably disruptive of traditional legal and non-legal state techniques for restricting information and communications within their borders, yet (c) susceptible to new capabilities and strategies on the part of governments that wish to censor or shape public speech.”

“I’m delighted that Andrew has agreed to join CIS," said Barbara van Schewick, Faculty Director of the Center for Internet and Society, Associate Professor of Law, and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering (by courtesy). "Andrew is an experienced policymaker and an outstanding teacher who thinks creatively about some of the most important questions facing the Internet today. His course on free speech will add yet another dimension to the work of the center and the educational opportunities for our students."

During the first two years of President Obama’s term, McLaughlin served on his White House staff as Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States, focusing on Internet, technology, and innovation policy, including open government, cybersecurity, online privacy and free speech, federal R&D priorities, spectrum policy, entrepreneurship, and building open technology platforms for health care, energy efficiency, and education. Prior to the White House, he served on the Obama/Biden presidential transition team, as a member of the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform cluster. He was Director of Global Public Policy at Google from 2004-2009, and from 1999-2003, he helped launch and manage ICANN, the Internet’s technical coordinating organization, serving as Vice President, Chief Policy Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. In 1998-1999 and 2003-2004, he was a senior fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and led a number of Internet infrastructure and policy initiatives in developing countries, including Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. From 1997-98, McLaughlin served as counsel to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

McLaughlin holds a B.A. from Yale University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. After clerking on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, McLaughlin started his legal career at Jenner & Block in Washington DC, where he focused on appellate and constitutional litigation. He was a member of the legal team that challenged the U.S. government’s first Internet censorship law, resulting in the Supreme Court’s landmark 1997 Internet free speech ruling in ACLU vs. Reno.

Currently, McLaughlin is working to launch Civic Commons (, a new non-profit that aims to help cities and governments share and implement low-cost technologies for public services, management, accountability, transparency, and citizen engagement.

(Originally published in SLS News.)

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