Cyber Law Expert Mary Anne Franks Presents “Lessons from the First Internet Ages" at Knight Foundation Research Series

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Mary Anne Franks

Professor Mary Anne Franks

What is the future of the Internet? Thirty years after the creation of the first web page, what have we learned about the impact of the Internet on communication, connection, and democracy?

Technology law and cyber law experts Professor Mary Anne Franks from the University of Miami School of Law and Eric Goldman from Santa Clara University School of Law present “Lessons from the First Internet Ages Symposium,” the first of a research series and convening of thought leaders from industry, policy, and academia on the internet, democracy, and society.

"This is a critical time for reflection and reckoning with the internet’s past, present, and future,” said Franks. “We hope that this convening will spotlight some of the most urgent questions about the intersection of technology and democracy, including issues of exclusion, exploitation, and equality. "

The virtual symposium by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on November 2 and 3 will explore and evaluate what key figures in the development of the Internet and online communities have learned from their experiences.

Miami Law’s Franks, a professor of law and Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair, is widely regarded for her scholarship on constitutional law and the intersections of law and technology. She serves as president and legislative and tech policy director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating online harassment and discrimination. Franks regularly provides expert analysis on free speech and the internet for nationally acclaimed media outlets and advises legislators and tech industry leaders on online privacy, harassment, criminal law, and threats.

She is the author of the award-winning 2019 book The Cult of the Constitution. Her second book, Fearless Speech, which argues that free speech doctrine and practice should be centered around the courageous, other-oriented speech of vulnerable communities rather than the reckless, self-centered speech of powerful groups, is expected in 2022.

Goldman is a professor of law and associate dean for research at Santa Clara University School of Law. He is a preeminent legal scholar whose seminal work has documented the interpretation of Section 230 internet law. 

Franks and Goldman, the 2021 Knight Visiting Scholars, are previous recipients of Knight Foundation grants through a major initiative to support new research on how our democracy is changing in the information age. Since 2019, Knight’s $50 million investment has supported the creation of new research centers at five major universities, as well as a range of research initiatives and projects at dozens more universities and policy think tanks. Scholars in the Knight Research Network are producing rigorous independent research that is informing public dialogue and policy debates on important topics like disinformation, digital manipulation and interference in democratic processes, free expression online, and the roles of private technology companies in our democracy.

“There is no better time for robust discourse on the future of the internet, no better expert than our Mary Anne Franks, and no better place that the rapidly growing South Florida tech ecohub,” said Interim Dean and Visiting Professor Nell Jessup Newton. “Miami Law continues to build on and expand its growing strength in the fields of the future – technology and intellectual property law like our concentration in the Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology.”

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