Law, Borders, and Speech Conference: Proceedings and Materials

Publication Type: 
White Paper / Report
Publication Date: 
December 15, 2017

Law, Borders, and Speech Conference

Tensions between national law and the Internet’s global architecture have existed since the network’s earliest days. They took on new urgency in recent years, with developments like French regulators’ efforts to globally enforce “Right to Be Forgotten” laws. New cases, technologies, and platform responses seem to come along every few months. Expert-level discussion of these issues is dynamic and fast-moving -- but the written literature is only starting to catch up. This volume contributes to that literature by capturing insights from the Stanford Center for Internet and Society’s Law, Borders, and Speech conference.     

The event honored the twentieth anniversary of David G. Post and David R. Johnson’s seminal Law and Borders article in the Stanford Law Review. It convened what one panelist called “the best folks on the subject in the country -- or probably the world,” from government, industry, civil society, and more. Vibrant discussion covered questions including

  • When should one country’s laws control speech and access to information around the world?

  • If the most meaningful ‘laws’ governing online speech are the ones made by private platforms, what does that mean for national governments and the rule of law?

  • Should Internet platforms use technical means to block countries where their services, or information posted by their users, violate national law? Should the answer depend on the country, the technology, or the law at issue?

  • How might these answers differ for specific areas of law, ranging from intellectual property to human rights?

The Conference proceedings volume includes overviews of each panel from the public session of the Conference. Appended resources include links to key cases, a glossary of current blocking technologies, and a write-up of hypothetical scenarios for group discussion. The panel write-ups capture some of the most sophisticated thinking on current issues, ranging from the role of geoblocking technologies to the intersection of state and private power in regulating user behavior on platforms like Google or Facebook. The material is licensed under the Creative Commons CC-BY license. We hope it will be a valuable in prompting further conversations and innovative thinking about these challenging and rapidly evolving issues.