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.
“Tool Without A Handle”: Tools and the Search for Meaning – Part II
"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." ~ Marcus Aurelius
The last post in this series observed optimal policy thinking aims at allowing people sufficient control over technologies they may use them to apply their own capacities and, in that process, find meaning. This post explores that point further; in particular how emphasis on technology, rather than people, falls short of that aim.
In response to a global backlash in the wake of Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election, dominant tech companies are scrambling to stave off increased governmental regulation of their information handling practices. It is an attractive strategy for them to cut deals with regulators whereby they agree to follow privately negotiated rules in lieu of command-and-control regulation. With respect to content moderation, this form of hybrid public-private regulation could undermine First Amendment limits on state action that are designed to protect individual citizens from official censorship. This post explores the role of anti-piracy voluntary agreements in normalizing hybrid public-private speech regulation on the Internet.
The European Parliament recently took the final vote on the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The text, which can be considered final, now awaits only the formal approval of the Council. The AVMSD will become the first legally binding instrument to impose new, and extensive, responsibilities for content regulation on privately owned Internet platforms. They are required to establish and apply detailed rules in areas such as hate speech, child pornography, protection of children’s development and preventing terrorism.
Over the course of the last decade, in response to significant pressure from the US government and other governments, service providers have assumed private obligations to regulate online content that have no basis in public law. For US tech companies, a robust regime of "voluntary agreements" to resolve content-related disputes has grown up on the margins of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Communications Decency Act (CDA). For the most part, this regime has been built for the benefit of intellectual property rightholders attempting to control online piracy and counterfeiting beyond the territorial limits of the United States and without recourse to judicial process.
Tighter regulation of social media and other online services in now under discussion in several European countries, as well as in the UK where the government has released a white paper outlining its proposed approach to tackling online harm.
The Internet was going to set us all free. At least, that is what U.S. policy makers, pundits, and scholars believed in the 2000s. The Internet would undermine authoritarian rulers by reducing the government’s stranglehold on debate, helping oppressed people realize how much they all hated their government, and simply making it easier and cheaper to organize protests.
"Earlier this week, we wrote about the EU Court of Justice's decision that the NSA's surveillance of the internet meant that the EU-US data protection safe harbor was invalid. As we noted, there's a lot of mess in all of this, but losing that safe harbor would be tremendously problematic for the internet.
“Fostering Freedom Online: the Role of Internet Intermediaries” is a new title in the UNESCO Internet freedom series.
"Frosio states, "By their nature, Internet services are inherently global. But Internet companies face a real challenge understanding how those global regimes might regulate the services they offer to the public. This uncertainty can hurt users by potentially scaring companies away from providing innovative new services in certain markets. Additionally, companies may unnecessarily limit what users can do online, or engage in censorship-by-proxy to avoid uncertain retribution under unfamiliar laws.""
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.