The Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University recently announced the release of a new report, which examines the rapidly changing landscape of online intermediary liability at the intersection of law, technology, norms, and markets, and is aimed at informing and improving Internet policy-making globally.

This report is a first output of a larger initiative on the governance of online intermediaries and consists of a case study series exploring online intermediary liability frameworks and issues in Brazil, the European Union, India, South Korea, the United States, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam, and a synthesis paper.

In addition to facilitating the research project, the Berkman Center led the drafting of the synthesis document and contributed a case study on intermediary liability in the United States.

Governance Of Online Intermediaries: Observations From A Series Of National Case Studies

The synthesis paper seeks to distill key observations and provide a high-level analysis of some of the structural elements that characterize varying governance frameworks, with a focus on intermediary liability regimes and their evolution. While intermediary liability varies significantly across the country case studies, the synthesis highlights the importance of cultural and political context, as reflected in both the legal norms aimed at regulating intermediaries and the perception of intermediaries’ social function within the countries studied.

Intermediary Liability in the United States

The United States paper describes and assesses the intermediary liability landscape in the United States, providing an overview of major US legal regimes that protect online intermediaries from liability for user content. It then offers a series of short case studies describing ways in which US-based companies and other organizations have structured their operations in compliance with and in response to US law.

The research effort is grounded in a diversity of global perspectives and collaborative research techniques, committed to objective and independent academic standards, and aspires to be useful, actionable, and timely for policymakers and stakeholders. More broadly, the Network of Centers seeks to contribute to a more generalized vision and longer-term strategy regarding the role of academic research, facilitation and convening, and education and communication in the Internet age.

The full text of the Berkman Center contribution, the other case studies by our international partners, and the synthesis paper are available on the Publixphere website, where the authors welcome comments and feedback.  The series and individual papers are also available for download from SSRN.

The Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers was launched by a group of academic centers – including the Berkman Center – in 2012 in recognition of the lack of internationally coordinated research and engagement activities in issues concerning the Internet and related technologies. The NoC is a collaborative initiative among academic institutions with a focus on interdisciplinary research on the development, social impact, policy implications, and legal issues concerning the Internet. This collective aims to increase interoperability between participating centers in order to stimulate the creation of new cross-national, cross-disciplinary conversation, debate, teaching, learning, and engagement regarding the most pressing questions around new technologies, social change, and related policy and regulatory developments.

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society.