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.
Disinformation-spewing online bots and trolls from halfway around the world are continuing to shape local and national debates by spreading lies online on a massive scale. In 2019, Russia used Facebook to intervene in the internal politics of eight African nations. Read more about The battle against disinformation is global
Many pressing environmental and security threats now facing the international community may be traced to the frontiers. From climate change and cyber-attacks to the associated challenges of space weaponization and orbital debris mitigation, solutions to all of these issues have at their root some form of regulation over the 'global commons'. Yet governance over these spaces is now transitioning away from multilateral treaties to regional and bilateral accords. This book makes an original contribution by comparing and contrasting some of the principal issues facing the frontiers. Read more about Governing New Frontiers in the Information Age
Professor Daphne Keller discussed intermediary liability laws, i.e. “the laws that define platforms responsibility for content posted by their users including the DMCA” and noted that international approaches to intermediary liability fall along a broad spectrum, with the DMCA falling somewhere in the middle. Read more about Hearing on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act at 22: How Other Countries Are Handling Online Piracy - Statement of Daphne Keller