Global Internet Freedom and Human Rights Distinguished Speaker Series

Established in 2011 by Professor Dawn Nunziato and Professor Arturo Carrillo, GW Law's Global Internet Freedom and Human Rights Distinguished Speaker Series presents a range of timely topics addressing global internet free speech and human rights issues.

The speaker series was established to promote greater reflection in academia and among policymakers on pressing issues relating to the growing convergence of Internet freedom and human rights.

The series is presented through the generous support of Microsoft Technology and Human Rights Center and is also publicized on the Technology | Academics | Policy (TAP) website.


October 29, 2015

The First Amendment as Killer App: How Law Made Silicon Valley with Professor Anupam Chander

    Why did the United States come to lead the world in cyberspace? Just as nineteenth century American judges altered the common law in order to subsidize industrial development, American judges and legislators altered the law at the turn of the millennium to promote the development of Internet enterprise. Europe and Asia, by contrast, imposed strict intermediary liability regimes, inflexible intellectual property rules, and severe privacy constraints, impeding local Internet entrepreneurs. The American solicitude for Internet innovations was grounded in our commitment to free speech. Free speech has proven to be the industrial policy for the Information Age.

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October 15, 2015

Zero-rating and Net Neutrality: Lessons from Theory and Practice

    This panel features experts from business, policy making, civil society and academia who will address the challenges posed by "zero-rating," the commercial practice of allowing mobile phone users to access select online services or applications for free. Zero-rating is problematic because it is a per se violation of net neutrality, the principle that all data traffic on the Internet must be treated the same regardless of its source or destination. Facebook's initiative (now called "Free Basics") is a controversial example of how zero-rating is being used to bring Internet access to millions of new users in the developing world.

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March 26, 2015

Hate Crimes in Cyberspace

    Danielle Citron, Professor of Law at University of Maryland Law School and a leading authority on privacy and civil rights, discussed her new book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, published by Harvard University Press in 2014. For more background, see  

February 20, 2015

In May 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that Google must recognize European citizens' "right to be forgotten" by removing links to articles and other Internet content about them that they would prefer to have "forgotten"–even if such content is truthful and accurate. Google has since received hundreds of thousands of requests to remove links to content that requesters would rather have "forgotten." What does this ruling mean for the future of freedom of expression and information on the Internet? Professor and President and CEO of the National Constitution Center Jeffrey Rosen will deliver his address "Should There Be a Right to be Forgotten?" 

October 23, 2014

The Net Neutrality and Global Internet Freedom Conference

The Net Neutrality and Global Internet Freedom Conference, sponsored by GW Law's Global Internet Freedom and Human Rights Project, focused on the impact of net neutrality and net discrimination on global Internet freedom and human rights. The conference featured as its keynote speaker Columbia Law Professor Timothy Wu, who coined the term "net neutrality."

April 3, 2014

System and Conscience: NSA Bulk Surveillance and the Problem of Freedom

The Global Internet Freedom and Human Rights Distinguished Speaker Series hosted Yochai Benkler, the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School, and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Since the 1990s Mr. Benkler has played a role in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society.

March 20, 2014

2014 Academic Conference on ICT Industry Self-Regulation & Human Rights 

If Google censors your blog post or surveils your email, the First and Fourth Amendments do not apply, because Google is not a state actor. The Global Network Initiative, for the past five years, has brought together the world's leading ICT companies–Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Facebook, among others–to commit themselves to principles of self-regulation to protect users' privacy and free speech rights. How well has this initiative–and others like it–succeeded? What are the challenges ahead for ICT industry self-regulation? GW Law's Global Internet Freedom & Human Rights Project, co-directed by Profs. Arturo Carrillo and Dawn Nunziato, hosted an Experts Panel on ICT Industry Policy Making on Free Expression and Privacy, to discuss these issues.

October 23, 2013

"Big Surveillance: What the NSA is Doing, Why it Matters, and How to Address It"

Professor Dan Solove addressed recent revelations about NSA surveillance and the legality of these activities. He also discussed how the debate between privacy and national security is often focused on wrong assumptions, faulty premises, and false trade-offs that impede a more balanced and productive discussion about how to reconcile privacy with protection against national security threats. Professor Paul Rosenzweig served as commentator.

March 8–9, 2013

Tech@State: Internet Freedom Conference

Tech@State: Internet Freedom explored the various techniques and methods that can be used to enhance and expand Internet freedom. Day One featured speakers like former U.S. Deputy CTO Andrew McLaughlinRebecca MacKinnon,Sascha Meinrath, and representatives from the State Department, Microsoft, Google, and NGOs working directly on the issue of Internet freedom around the world. Day Two's events consisted of an unconference, where participants collaborated with other attendees to create their own agenda.

February 14, 2013

Dawn Nunziato
Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School
"Convergence: Digital Due Process for Protecting Internet Speech"

At the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe's Internet Freedom 2013 Conference, Professor Dawn Nunziato argued that although countries throughout Europe have different substantive protections for speech and categories of illegal speech, there is also a convergence of procedural protections—or "digital due process"—for protecting internet speech in these countries, including a convergence of this jurisprudence under the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the U.S. First Amendment.

February 12, 2013

Vinton G. Cerf
Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
"The Internet in the 21st Century"

The freedom of the Internet is at risk as governments that feel threatened try to suppress freedom of expression and access to information. Dr. Cerf reviewed some of the relevant threats as well as the principal actors involved in this dynamic.

January 31, 2013

Howard A. Schmidt
Former Cybersecurity Coordinator of the Obama Administration
"A Conversation on International Cyberspace Strategy"

This exciting addition to the Distinguished Speaker Series highlighted the development of an international cyberspace strategy, how to make it work, and whether it should be lead by the private sector or government.

October 4, 2012

Rebecca MacKinnon
Co-Founder, Global Voices Online
Free Speech, Blasphemy, and the Anti-Muslim YouTube Video

Rebecca MacKinnon is a journalist and activist whose work focuses on the intersection of the internet, human rights, and foreign policy. She is the author of the highly-acclaimed book Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom. She is also the co-founder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network, and a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology sector. Ms. MacKinnon worked as a journalist for CNN in Beijing for nine years, serving as CNN's Beijing bureau chief and correspondent, and then as CNN's Tokyo bureau chief and correspondent.

May 10, 2012

Transatlantic Conference on Global Online Freedom and Corporate Responsibility

The University of Groningen and GW Law hosted this path-breaking transatlantic conference on Global Online Freedom and Corporate Responsibility. The Internet has become the most important medium for worldwide communication and trade; however, the Internet also offers unprecedented possibilities for censorship, monitoring, and surveillance by authoritarian regimes. Western companies that supply information technology to such regimes facilitate this censorship, whether intentionally or unintentionally. At the conference, representatives of the U.S. Congress, Google, Reporters Without Borders, and internationally renowned scholars addressed these issues. The conference included keynotes by prominent speakers as well as multidisciplinary workshops organized by honors students from the University of Groningen and GW Law. Part two of the conference was held in Brussels on May 14, 2012.

February 22, 2012

Rebecca MacKinnon
Co-Founder, Global Voices Online

A journalist and an activist, Rebecca MacKinnon examines the intersection of the internet, human rights, and foreign policy. As a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Ms. MacKinnon examines U.S. policies related to the internet and human rights. Her first book, Consent of the Networked, is a forthcoming publication by Basic Books. She is the co-founder of Global Voices Online, a global citizen media network, and is also a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance principles of freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology sector. Ms. MacKinnon worked as a journalist for CNN in Beijing for nine years, serving as CNN's Beijing bureau chief and correspondent, and then as CNN's Tokyo bureau chief and correspondent.

January 18, 2012

Frank La Rue
Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, United Nations

The U.N. Human Rights Council appointed Frank La Rue to the post of special rapporteur in March 2008. The position focuses on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Earlier this year, the Council renewed his mandate until 2014.

Mr. La Rue has been involved in the promotion of human rights for 25 years. He is the founder and president of the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights (CALDH) in his native Guatemala. CALDH is a renowned NGO that has brought pioneering human rights cases in Guatemalan courts as well as to the Inter-American Human Rights System. Mr. La Rue has held a number of other important posts as well. He served as presidential commissioner for human rights in Guatemala, as a human rights adviser to the minister of foreign affairs, and as president of the governing board of the Centro-American Institute of Social Democracy Studies.

He holds a B.A. in legal and social studies from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, and a post-graduate degree in U.S. foreign policy from Johns Hopkins University. In 2004, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

October 24, 2011

Dr. Ian Brown
Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute

In addition to his role as research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, Dr. Brown has served as a trustee of Privacy International, the Open Rights Group, and the Foundation for Information Policy Research. He has also served as an adviser to Greenpeace, the Refugee Children's Consortium, Amnesty International, and Creative Commons UK. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the International University of Japan, and the British Computer Society. He also has served as a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery, and has consulted for numerous organizations including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, JP Morgan, McAfee, and the BBA.

Dr. Brown has written for the Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, and Guardian. In 2004, he was voted as one of the 100 most influential people in the development of the internet in the United Kingdom during the previous decade.

October 3, 2011

Dunja Mijatović
Representative on Freedom of the Media, Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE)

An expert in media law and regulation, Dunja Mijatović was appointed OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in 2010. Previously, Ms. Mijatović served as chairperson of the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities, the world's largest network of media regulators.

She is co-founder of the Communications Regulatory Agency of Bosnia and Herzegovina that was established in 1998. In that role, Ms. Mijatović encouraged a legal and policy framework for media in the post-war society. She is a graduate of the University of Sarajevo, the University of Bologna, and the London School of Economics.

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