“Bridging the Gap” - Safeguarding Online Freedom Across the Atlantic (April 29)

Bridging the Gap -  Safeguarding Online Freedom Across the Atlantic (April 29)

“Bridging the Gap” - Safeguarding Online Freedom Across the Atlantic (April 29), © “Photo by Gerrit Vermeulen on Unsplash“


Join the German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New York and the Consulate General of Germany New York for a discussion on the nuances of free speech in our digital world.

As our daily interactions and public communications increasingly move to digital platforms, the imperative of balancing the need to allow everyone to speak freely without crossing boundaries becomes very complex. So the question that arises is: How do we uphold the fundamental right to free expression on social media, where diverse perspectives collide, while ensuring that this space fosters respect and safety? A distinguished panel of experts will discuss online expression across the Atlantic. The panel includes Ellen P. Goodman, Senior Advisor for Algorithmic Justice at the US Department of Commerce, Zoe Darmé, Senior Manager on Consumer Trust, Google (formerly content governance and moderation at Facebook), Chinmayi Arun, Executive Director of the Information Society Project and Research Scholar at Yale Law School, and Peter Micek, General Counsel and UN Policy Manager at Access Now. Sumi Somaskanda, a renowned journalist from BBC News, will moderate the discussion. They will explore the complexities of digital expression and regulation.

In the United States, the First Amendment is the cornerstone of free speech. It provides for minimal government restrictions and gives social media platforms considerable leeway to set their own rules for what users can say. This means that platforms set their own policies for reviewing, curating and, if necessary, removing user-generated content that violates their policies (content moderation). For example, if misinformation or other sensitive topics are being disseminated. Currently, a forthcoming US Supreme Court ruling on the role of platform operators “could fundamentally alter the nature of speech on the Internet”, as the New York Times puts it.

Conversely, the European Union has adopted a regulatory approach through instruments such as the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires the removal of certain types of content in accordance with local laws. The aim is to reduce hate speech and discrimination, and thus protect individuals online. This approach highlights the recognition by constitutional courts of the potential need for a regulatory framework to realize and protect freedoms, particularly in broadcasting. The US Supreme Court does not yet provide such a framework.

At this critical juncture of evolving norms and standards, power struggles over speech regimes are certain. Global platforms based in the US 'export' the US approach to free speech through their terms of service. But European regulatory strategies are also gaining international momentum, in what is known as the 'Brussels effect'.

Our panel discussion is set to foster transatlantic dialogue and carve pathways towards mutual learnings to balance the principles of free expression with the needs of a safe digital space. Join us for a meaningful exploration of this critical issue.

This event is hosted by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society and the German Center for Research and and Innovation (DWIH New York), in cooperation with the Consulate General of Germany, the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) and the UNESCO Chair in Freedom of Communication and Information.

Date and Time: April 29, 2024 – 11 AM to 1 PM (live stream: 11:30 AM – 1PM)

Location: hybrid: German House, Auditorium (871 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017) & online

More information: https://www.dwih-newyork.org/en/event/2024-hiig-freedom/

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