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.
Whether and when communications platforms like Google, Twitter and Facebook are liable for their users’ online activities is one of the key factors that affects innovation and free speech. Most creative expression today takes place over communications networks owned by private companies. Governments around the world increasingly press intermediaries to block their users’ undesirable online content in order to suppress dissent, hate speech, privacy violations and the like. One form of pressure is to make communications intermediaries legally responsible for what their users do and say. Liability regimes that put platform companies at legal risk for users’ online activity are a form of censorship-by-proxy, and thereby imperil both free expression and innovation, even as governments seek to resolve very real policy problems.
In the United States, the core doctrines of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have allowed these online intermediary platforms user generated content to flourish. But, immunities and safe harbors for intermediaries are under threat in the U.S. and globally as governments seek to deputize intermediaries to assist in law enforcement.
To contribute to this important policy debate, CIS studies international approaches to intermediary obligations concerning users’ copyright infringement, defamation, hate speech or other vicarious liabilities, immunities, or safe harbors; publishes a repository of information on international liability regimes and works with global platforms and free expression groups to advocate for policies that will protect innovation, freedom of expression, privacy and other user rights.
Joan Barata is an international expert in freedom of expression, freedom of information and media regulation. As a scholar, he has spoken and done extensive research in these areas, working and collaborating with various universities and academic centers, from Asia to Africa and America, authoring papers, articles and books, and addressing specialized Parliament committees.
Annemarie Bridy is a Professor of Law at the University of Idaho. She is also an Affiliated Fellow at the Yale Law School Information Society Project and a former Visiting Associate Research Scholar at the Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy. Professor Bridy specializes in intellectual property and information law, with specific attention to the impact of new technologies on existing legal frameworks for the protection of intellectual property and the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Giancarlo F. Frosio is a Non-Residential Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Previously he was the Intermediary Liabilty fellow with Stanford CIS. He is also a Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Center for International Intellectual Property Studies (CEIPI) at Strasbourg University. Giancarlo also serves as Affiliate Faculty at Harvard CopyrightX and Faculty Associate of the Nexa Research Center for Internet and Society in Turin.
Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into force today, after two years of preparation. Meanwhile, in the US, a remarkable number of people are suggesting we should adopt something like the GDPR. What does that actually mean, and what policy trade-offs does it entail?
-- Updated version of online WILMap provides improved functionality in tracking global online liability laws --
Canada's Office of the Privacy Commissioner has concluded that an existing law, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), gives individuals legal power to make individual websites take down information. This goes well beyond the rights recognized by the European Court of Justice in its “right to be forgotten” case, and raises the following important questions
Should Canada adopt its own version of the “right to be forgotten”? The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) recently concluded, in a Draft Position Paper, that such a right actually exists already. According to the OPC, Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) gives individuals legal power to make search engines like Google de-list search results about them, and to make individual websites take down information. In a Comment filed last week, I argued that this interpretation of PIPEDA will create far more problems than it solves.
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.
"“I think they are really struggling and that’s not surprising, because it’s a very hard problem,” said Daphne Keller, who used to be on Google’s legal team and is now with Stanford University.
"According to Daphne Keller, a director at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford’s school of law, outing those anonymous defendants might be the only way Miltenberg can get the case heard. It’s likely that Google – which was not named in the suit – and Donegan as the document’s creator will be immunized by federal statute and could get the case dismissed, Keller said.
"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.”"
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Yana Welinder from Wikimedia Foundation will join our conversation and present emerging intermediary liability issues for online platforms. In particular, we will discuss thorny issues arising in the context of Wikimedia's activities, where the global, peer-produced nature of Wikipedia can test the limits of the tension between freedom of expression and third-party claims.
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Professor Eric Goldman from Santa Clara Law School will join our conversation and present developments in US internet intermediary law. In particular, we will discuss Section 230 of the of the Communications Decency Act, intermediary liability and freedom of expression. We will consider recent questions surfacing before U.S. courts, such as whether Twitter should be liable for terrorist propaganda.
What, if anything, should we do about extremist content on the Internet? What is the role of Internet companies in promoting free expression and privacy around the world? How should we manage data requests from law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, when countries have different privacy protections and different laws?
The question of what responsibility should lie with Internet platforms for the content they host that is posted by their users has been the subject of debate around in the world as politicians, regulators, and the broader public seek to navigate policy choices to combat harmful speech that have implications for freedom of expression, online harms, competition, and innovation.
In this episode, The Stream speaks with tech industry experts and policy analysts to explore whether the Indian government’s plan will ensure public safety or set a dangerous precedent.
The latest in the EU's string of internet regulatory efforts has a new target: terrorist propaganda. Just as with past regulations, the proposed rules seem onerous and insane, creating huge liability for internet platforms that fail to do the impossible.
Cybersecurity is increasingly a major concern of modern life, coloring everything from the way we vote to the way we drive to the way our health care records are stored. Yet online security is beset by threats from nation-states and terrorists and organized crime, and our favorite social media sites are drowning in conspiracy theories and disinformation. How do we reset the internet and reestablish control over our own information and digital society?