The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.
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.
Stanford Law School today announced the appointment of Daphne Keller as Director of Intermediary Liability at The Center for Internet and Society (CIS). Starting in September 2015, Keller will lead the Center’s work at the intersection of online technologies, liability and corporate responsibility, and civil liberties, with a particular focus on global liability regimes that impact free expression and innovation.
Today, a court in Istanbul ordered the ban of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube over the publication of the picture of a public prosecutor held hostage by extreme-Left militants. The blocking order on Twitter and Facebook was lifted after the social media sites complied with the request of removal. The ban of YouTube is still in place. Read more about Turkey Blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over Images of Public Prosecutor Held Hostage
On March 31, 2015, the Italian Privacy Authority ("Authority") issued a decision stating that users cannot obtain the delisting of search results of recent news with a relevant public interest. However, search engines must delete or edit automatically generated snippets accompanying the search results if they are misleading. Read more about Right to be Forgotten Must be Balanced with Freedom of the Press, Italian Privacy Authority Says
A few days ago, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided C More Entertainment AB v Linus Sandberg. This is the last episode of the linking saga, previously discussed by the ECJ in Svensson and Bestwater. This time, the ECJ had to decide whether linking to live internet streams of sport events infringed on the exclusive related rights of broadcasting organizations. The ECJ concluded that national legislation may extend the exclusive right of the broadcasting organisations to acts of communication to the public encompassing broadcasts of sporting fixtures made live on internet. Read more about (C) More Entertainment for Broadcasters: The European Court of Justice on Linking to Live Streams of Sport Events