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.
"“This part of the Charlottesville story makes people think about who controls speech on the Internet,” says Daphne Keller of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. “We don’t have 1st Amendment rights to stop private companies from shutting down our speech, and most of the Internet is run by private companies. Most of us want some intermediaries to play that role — when we go on Twitter, we don’t want to be barraged with obscenities and on Facebook we don’t want to see racism.
"That doesn’t mean these companies aren’t feeling the pressure from advertisers and users who fear that pages belonging to alt-right publications like the Daily Stormer could incite violence, said Daphne Keller, Director of Intermediary Liability at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.
""The number of net intermediaries acting as gatekeepers has increased," since GoDaddy booted Daily Stormer, said Daphne Keller, who studies platforms' legal responsibilities at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. "Suddenly the domain registrars are sitting in judgment on content and speech," joining the usual players around free speech such as Google, Facebook and Twitter."
""Legally, they don't have any responsibility around this, unless it's a federal crime [such as child pornography] or intellectual property," Daphne Keller, the director of intermediary liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told CNN Tech."
"But Canada’s Supreme Court has flipped this script with its globally-binding ruling. Daphne Keller, a director of Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, called it “much more far reaching than most” in an email.
Presented by Bloomberg, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the First Amendment Coalition.
Lunch: 1:00 pm
Program: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
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.