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
This panel considered issues of national jurisdiction in relation to Internet platforms’ voluntary content removal policies. These policies, typically set forth in Community Guidelines (CGs) or similar documents, prohibit content based on the platforms’ own rules or values—regardless of whether the content violates any law.
The essay below serves as introduction to the Stanford Center for Internet and Society's Law, Borders, and Speech Conference Proceedings Volume. The conference brought together experts from around the world to discuss conflicting national laws governing online speech -- and how courts, Internet platforms, and public interest advocates should respond to increasing demands for these laws to be enforced on the global Internet.
Today, someone asked me about the Internet and human well-being over the next decade. The question was a healthy provocation to look at the big picture. I chose “more helped than harmed” from the very short list of radio-button responses. Here’s my elaboration:
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.
"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.”"
"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.
"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.”"
"“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.”"
After a lengthy legislative process, the GDPR is finally ready. As the most significant overhaul of data privacy laws in Europe in twenty years, it will have a profound impact on Silicon Valley technology companies offering online services in Europe. The recently announced Privacy Shield will affect most US organisations that receive personal information from Europe.
Over 800 attendees registered at the State of the Net Conference (SOTN) in 2015. The conference provides unparalleled opportunities to network and engage on key Internet policy issues. SOTN is the largest Internet policy conference in the U.S. and the only one with over 50 percent Congressional staff and government policymakers in attendance.
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.