The U.S. approach to Internet platform liability has been characterized as the single most important legal protection for free speech on the Internet. Over the past two decades, every major Internet service has turned to the rules to ensure that liability for third party content posted on their sites rests with the poster, not the site or service. Those rules have proven increasingly controversial, however, with mounting calls for the companies to take on greater responsibility for content posted on their sites. The issue captured international attention last month when U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order that heightens the pressure for change.
Eric Goldman is a Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law in the Silicon Valley where he co-directs the High Tech Law Institute. He has written extensively about Internet liability and appeared before the US Congress to testify on the issue. He joins me on the podcast to discuss the history behind the U.S. approach, its impact, and the implications of the Trump Executive Order.
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Since the release of the Broadcast and Telecommunications Legislative Review Panel report late last month, I’ve posted on several key issues including an overview of concerns, news regulation, Canadian Heritage Minister Guilbeault’s comments, net neutrality, discoverability claims, consumer costs, and a podcast debate with panel chair Janet Yale. The blog now shifts for the next two days on trade-related concerns arising from the report’s recommendations. This issue is particularly timely since the House of Commons has been debating Bill C-4, the implementation bill for the US-Canada-Mexico (USMCA) Trade Agreement and the government had made treaty implementation one of its top legislative priorities.
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The question of what responsibility should lie with Internet platforms for the content they host that is posted by their users has been the subject of debate around in the world as politicians, regulators, and the broader public seek to navigate policy choices to combat harmful speech that have implications for freedom of expression, online harms, competition, and innovation. To help sort through the policy options, Daphne Keller, the Director of Intermediary Liability at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, joins the podcast this week. She recently posted an excellent article on the Balkinization blog that provided a helpful guide to intermediary liability law making and agreed to chat about how policy makers can adjust the dials on new rules to best reflect national goals.
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