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 an Associate Professor 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. Giancarlo is a qualified attorney with a doctoral degree (S.J.D.) in intellectual property law from Duke University Law School.
Filtering Facebook: Introducing Dolphins in the Net, a New Stanford CIS White Paper
Why Internet Users and EU Policymakers Should Worry about the Advocate General’s Opinion in Glawischnig-Piesczek
White Paper: Dolphins in the Net: Internet Content Filters and the Advocate General’s Glawischnig-Piesczek v. Facebook Ireland Opinion
The law and legal professional ethics require of counsel a duty of candor in the practice of law. This includes a duty to not knowingly make false statements of fact, and to not offer evidence the lawyer knows to be false. These principles are considered essential to maintaining both substantive fairness for participants in the process, and trust in the integrity of the process for those outside of it.
Users of information tools in public contexts are not, of course, subject to the same duties. And publication of false information is generally protected by the First Amendment, unless it falls into one of the defined exceptions. I’m doubtful a law against publication of false information would be sustained.
It is, however, perfectly acceptable for most information technology platforms to adopt such a policy and seek to enforce it as best they can. That is, platforms could create and enforce rules against publication of information known to be false. A recent publication from the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights contends platforms should do so. This post concurs: subject to some limitations, private platforms can and should take a position that use of their services to intentionally or carelessly spread false information violates terms of service.
In the name of “brand safety,” advertisers these days are working hard to better control where their ads appear online. Programmatic advertising with real-time bidding automates the process of online ad buying and ad placement to such an extent that the entire process takes place in the time it takes a web page to load. The process is highly efficient, but a significant downside is that ads sometimes appear alongside controversial content with which an advertiser would rather not be associated. Online pornography is the classic example, but other strains of extreme content—e.g., hate speech, conspiracism, and incitement-to-terrorism—have more recently come into focus for advertisers as threats to brand reputation.
The security of our news and media information systems matters as much as the security of personal and commercial information systems. "Information warfare" shows that harms can arise even when there is no unauthorized access, when tools are used as intended, and when there’s no compromise of user privacy settings. In both cases of cybersecurity and news/media security, the threats are asymmetric, the tools readily available, usable for many purposes, and threats are easily disguised as benign.
"“Many people suing for harassment have tried to find exemptions under the CDA,” said Daphne Keller, director of intermediary liability at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, making the point that the platforms usually win."
"Registrars need to be established companies that can demonstrate technical capability and financial stability. If they want to offer recognized domains extensions, they have to work with companies like Verisign, which controls the coveted .com TLD. Establishing a registry for a new TLD, meanwhile, is pretty much a non-starter right now: the last application period was in 2012, when applicants paid $185,000 just to be evaluated. The next application period is tentatively slated for 2020.
"“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.
"For Morgan Weiland, PhD candidate and junior associate researcher at the Center for Internet & Society at Stanford Law School, the discussion is very complicated and she does not see a solution in the short or medium term.
"The risk of closing pages or removing content from white supremacists is what happens tomorrow, someone can do the same with a page from the Black Lives Matter movement ," Weiland says in an interview with BBC World.
"Where you put the limit, how you avoid falling into censorship ... are very delicate issues,""
Register here: http://web.stanford.edu/dept/law/forms/conlawmay2019.fb
Friday, May 24
How Should Free Speech Principles Apply to the Content Policy of Internet Platforms?
• Danielle Citron, University of Maryland Carey School of Law
• Niall Ferguson, Stanford University
• Mary Anne Franks, University of Miami Law School
• Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School
Moderator: Nate Persily, Stanford Law School
Lunch: 1:00 pm
Program: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
CIS Affiliate Scholar David Levine interviews The Guardian's Julia Powles and Prof. Ellen Goodman of Rutgers Law School, on the "Right to Be Forgotten."
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.
CIS Affiliate Scholar David Levine interviews Prof. Jacqueline Lipton of The University of Akron Law School, author of Rethinking Cyberlaw: A New Vision for Internet Law.