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Censors in the Stack: Who Should Police the Web? Where and Why?

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Venable LLP

Venable LLP Conference Center 600 Massachusetts Ave NW Conference Center, Washington, DC 20001

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Censors in the Stack: Who Should Police the Web? Where and Why?

A Roundtable Discussion organized by the Greater Washington DC Chapter of the Internet Society and Venable LLP, 600 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC

From 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM (Networking breakfast at 9:00; Program starts 9:30)


The deadly riots in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August were triggered by neo-Nazi groups who used the Web and social media to mobilize their followers. In the aftermath, Internet companies came under pressure to prevent websites like The Daily Stormer from using their services. Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have been suspending the accounts of thousands of websites in the U.S. and overseas that have been accused of disseminating hate speech. Germany has passed the NetzDG law, which requires them to take down “obviously illegal” content within twenty-four hours.

But social media companies are not the only companies being asked to prevent offensive speech online. After Charlottesville, domain name providers like GoDaddy and Google both terminated The Daily Stormer’s account. Hosting companies are refusing to host extremist content. Banks and credit card companies are terminating the account of website accused of hate speech. Cloud-based security services like Cloudflare were accused of supporting the repugnant content posted on The Daily Stormer--until they terminated their service.


  • What happens when the desire for a free and open Internet collides to with efforts to prevent the growth of hate groups and violence?

  • What are the responsibilities of the organizations that run the infrastructure of the Internet to prevent it from being misused by criminals, hate groups, and hostile governments?

  • Do different parts of the “stack” have different roles and responsibilities?

  • If private companies start to choose who can be heard online, will repressive governments require them to censor the global Internet?


Discussion Catalysts

Doug Kramer – General Counsel, Cloudflare

Mark MacCarthySenior Vice President for Public Policy, SIIA

Robert M. McDowell Partner, Cooley LLP (and former FCC Commissioner)


Moderated by Jeremy Grant - Managing Director of Technology Business Strategy, Venable LLP

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Venable LLP

Venable LLP Conference Center 600 Massachusetts Ave NW Conference Center, Washington, DC 20001

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