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​Symposium: Intermediary Liability in the Digital Age  

May 16, 2012
Auditorium 101, 1st floor, Hatter Student Building
University of Haifa – Faculty of Law

Academic Organizers:
Dr. Khalid Ghanayim, Dr. Tal Zarsky, Haifa University, Faculty of Law

New digital technologies are generating a rich discourse of ideas and content, which is easily and mostly freely available to all. Technology enables these beneficial dynamics by reducing the costs of interactions and data distribution. Yet technology also reduced the costs of antisocial and destructive activity. It might lead to breaches of privacy, slanderous exchanges and even promote violence and suppression of weaker groups. Therefore, these new trends of information flow lead to a variety of legal questions and policy challenges.

Any legal and policy discussion regarding digital content and its potential detriments quickly gravitates towards digital intermediaries. These powerful distribution platforms stand at a crucial juncture in the overall information flow. At this point, they can control and even shape the public discourse. Given their position of power, they naturally generate questions regarding their liability for the harms the information they convey cause, as well as other policy concerns. Should intermediaries be held liable for harms caused by the information conveyed and speech exercised within their virtual realm? Should they be required to structure their policies and interfaces in a specific manner? Should one set of rules pertain to all intermediaries, or is a more context-specific policy strategy called for?

The symposium brings together leading legal experts from around the world. They are joined by legal practitioners and members of the relevant industries. The discussion will focus on the legal questions and policy concerns related to intermediary liability in this new digital environment. In doing so, this event will address the important rights and interests at stake - free speech, technological development and innovation as well as privacy and personal autonomy rights. It will examine the novel contexts of cyberlaw and telecommunications policy, while acknowledging existing doctrines of tort law, and related topics (such as copyright). The discussion will examine general intermediaries, as well as specific intermediaries which provide unique services (search engines, social networks, dating websites and others). The symposium will also examine the technological and social backgrounds that for these legal issues.

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