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Yochai Benkler

  • Victorious Snowden stuck in exile

    June 8, 2015

    Edward Snowden is claiming victory this week, after President Obama signed legislation that significantly curbs federal surveillance powers for the first time in a generation. But the world’s most famous American leaker is still stuck in Russia, with the U.S. having revoked his passport and indicted him on espionage charges that would likely lead to a lengthy prison sentence, should he step back on American soil...“In the context of laws that are very broad, the power to selectively prosecute those that expose things that are critical of the administration’s behavior, while not prosecuting — or prosecuting for a very limited offense — those who leak in a way that supports the administration ... is an abuse of power itself,” said Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The fact that Snowden remains a fugitive after spurring changes in the law “says more about us and our system than about him,” Benkler added. It’s “a profoundly distorted view of American democracy,” he said.

  • It’s Time to Bring Edward Snowden Home

    May 21, 2015

    ...During his speech against the Patriot Act, [Rand] Paul leaned heavily on the information that Snowden brought to light. That’s because Snowden has transformed the debate in this country—and in the world—over surveillance. Given that fact, it’s more than a little strange that the most famous whistleblower in recent U.S. history shouldn’t be here to speak up as we consider the results of his handiwork. Which is why it is time to bring Edward Snowden home to America and let him make the case for his freedom in front of a jury of his peers...The courts can settle this matter, but only if they are allowed to consider the legality of the secrets Snowden disclosed. USC-Berkeley Journalism Dean Edward Wasserman and Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler believe there should be a public interest defense to protect whistleblowers in cases like Snowden’s.

  • Faculty Weigh In FCC’s Ruling To Classify Internet as Telecommunications

    March 3, 2015

    Following the Federal Communication Commission's decision to classify the internet as a telecommunications service, thereby allowing the government to regulate it as a utility, Harvard professors praised the ruling considered a victory for net neutrality proponents....Beyond the decision’s positive impact on consumers, faculty members marked the political significance that the decision came into fruition. Yochai Benkler, Berkman Center faculty co-director and Law School professor, acknowledged that successful grassroots movements put pressure on legislators. “[The ruling is] a moment that can give us hope that even in the presence of enormous amounts of money in politics and one of the worst revolving door environments in Washington, people can still organize themselves to force politicians to do the right thing,” Benkler wrote in an email.

  • Want to Reform the NSA? Give Edward Snowden Immunity

    September 8, 2014

    An op-ed by Yochai Benkler. But national security is different. There are limited protections for internal whistleblowers, and none at all for those who go to the press. Defenders of that approach argue that the critical nature of national security justifies complete secrecy. But that very critical nature also means that mistakes can have devastating effects, while the secrecy that national-security organizations demand makes them more likely to get stuck in erroneous patterns. Secrecy disables many of the mechanisms that other systems use to correct failure dynamics.

  • Great for the Tea Party, bad for the people: How the 1 percent conquered Internet activism

    August 5, 2014

    Ten years ago, many political activists had high hopes for the Internet…From the world of academia, Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler argued that the Internet had enabled the rise of a new “networked public sphere” that was more open to diverse voices and less driven by big money, and that this new media system would nurture a politics that was more small-d democratic. Over the years, Benkler has pointed to a series of Net-driven successes, including the 2004 blogger-led boycott of Sinclair Broadcasting, the Diebold voting machine scandal, the many revelations published by WikiLeaks, and the grass-roots defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) as proof of this power shift.

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    Faculty Viewpoints: Benkler on civil liberties and security in a post-9/11 networked world

    January 1, 2014

    This summer, when Chelsea Manning (then known as Private Bradley Manning) was on trial for passing hundreds of thousands of documents obtained from military computers to WikiLeaks, Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 testified for the defense. Benkler’s work—including his 2011 case study of the legal wrangling related to WikiLeaks—has put him in the middle of the debate over the balance between civil liberties and security in a post-9/11 networked world.

  • HLS Faculty assess the week’s legal news

    July 15, 2013

    In a week of many developments in the world of law, Harvard Law School faculty were online, in print, and on-the-air offering analyses and opinions.

  • HLS faculty assess Zimmerman case, Bulger trial and the week’s legal news

    July 11, 2013

    In a week of many developments in the world of law, Harvard Law School faculty were online, in print, and on-the-air offering analyses and opinions.

  • Harvard Law School media roundup: From the NSA scandal to the regulatory battles of a new taxi cab app

    June 17, 2013

    Over the past week, a number of HLS faculty members shared their viewpoints on events in the news. Here are some excerpts.

  • Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at HLS

    Briefs: Some memorable moments, milestones and a Miró

    October 1, 2012

    In October 1962, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Harvard Law School on “The Future of Integration.” It was six months before he would be imprisoned in a Birmingham jail, 10 months before the March on Washington, almost two years before the signing of the Civil Rights Act and almost six years before his assassination. “It may be that the law cannot make a man love me,” he said, “but it can keep him from lynching me.”

  • In new book, Benkler makes the case for “prosocial” systems design

    October 19, 2011

    For generations, the assumption that selfishness drives human behavior has shaped the design of social systems in which we live and work. In his new book “The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Triumph of Cooperation Over Self-Interest,” Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 rejects this assumption as a “myth” and proposes an alternative, refreshingly optimistic model that asserts our human traits of cooperation and collaboration.

  • Hearsay: Faculty short takes

    July 1, 2011

    “Private Manning’s Humiliation” Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and Bruce Ackerman, professor at Yale Law School
    The New York Review of Books
    April 28,…

  • Professor Yochai Benkler '94

    Benkler named Ford Foundation ‘Visionary’

    May 4, 2011

    Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler ‘94 has received a Ford Foundation Visionaries Award, it was announced April 29. The award was created in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of the Ford Foundation to celebrate social innovators from a variety of fields.

  • Yochai Benkler and Bruce Ackerman

    Benkler in The New York Review of Books: Private Manning’s Humiliation

    April 7, 2011

    In an open letter published recently in The New York Review of Books, Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and co-author Bruce Ackerman, professor at Yale Law School, detail the detention of Bradley Manning, a US soldier charged with providing government documents to Wikileaks, and call on President Obama and the Pentagon to document grounds for what the authors describe as “illegal and immoral” confinement.

  • Professor Yochai Benkler '94

    Benkler argues against prosecution of WikiLeaks, detailing government and news media "overreaction"

    March 14, 2011

    Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 has released an article detailing U.S. government and news media censorship of WikiLeaks after the organization released the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and U.S. State department diplomatic cables in 2010. Among his key conclusions: The government overstated and overreacted to the WikiLeaks documents, and the mainstream news media followed suit by engaging in self-censorship. Benkler argues further that there is no sound Constitutional basis for a criminal prosecution of WikiLeaks or its leader, Julian Assange.

  • HLS Professor Yochai Benkler

    Berkman Broadband Study Stresses Open Access

    January 1, 2011

    In 2009, HLS Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society were commissioned by the FCC to do a study on broadband deployment throughout the world.

  • Professor Yochai Benkler '94

    Benkler on NPR: Newspaper of the Future

    July 19, 2010

    HLS Professor and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society Yochai Benkler recently appeared on NPR's On The Media to discuss the future of the production and exchange of information in our society. 

  • Hearsay: Short takes from faculty op-eds Summer 2010

    July 1, 2010

    A Measure of History Professor Kenneth W. Mack ’91
    The Boston Globe
    March 25, 2010 “In recent weeks, the Obama administration … sought to mobilize supporters around…

  • Faculty scholarship: Benkler on blogospheres

    May 12, 2010

    In April, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society announced a major research release: “A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right.” The study, based on research by HLS Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and Berkman Research Fellow Aaron Shaw, examines the discursive practices of major U.S. political blogs on the left, right, and center during the summer of 2008.

  • Benkler in NYT: Ending the Internet’s trench warfare

    March 22, 2010

    HLS Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 wrote “Ending the Internet’s trench warfare,” an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times on March 21, 2010. Last summer, Benkler, the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, conducted a major independent review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world, following a request by the Federal Communications Commission.

  • 2009 Year in Review: Faculty Publications

    December 14, 2009

    In their book,“No Place to Hide: Gang, State, and Clandestine Violence in El Salvador” (Harvard University Press, 2009), Clinical Professor James Cavallaro and Spring…