When national governments want to block particular Internet activities or content—or see what users are doing—they typically turn to the private companies that manage pieces of the Internet, including Internet Service Providers, search engines, blogging and news portals, and even hardware providers.
For some types of online material, such as pornography, racist speech, defamation, or unauthorized posting of personal information, governments, NGOs, and others may encourage or even require Internet companies to restrict content. In other cases, however, governments expect Internet companies to similarly restrict content that is protected expression under international standards, such as videos about current events, online fora for religious expression, and blogs criticizing or ridiculing national leaders.
As pressures to filter, censor, and monitor this type of protected speech on the Internet have mounted, some Internet and communications technology (ICT) companies, academics, human rights activists, socially responsible investors, and civil society participants have held a series of conversations about how to respond. This event will tap project participants to have as candid a conversation as possible about the process in which they've engaged, and the role that corporations should play in response to government-mandated Internet censorship and surveillance, with particular but not exclusive emphasis on authoritarian regimes.
Moderator: Jonathan Zittrain Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Visiting Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard Law School Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation, Oxford University Co-Founder and Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society