Prof. Eric Goldman joined the faculty in 2006 and holds several administrative titles, including Associate Dean for Research, Co-Director of the High Tech Law Institute, Supervisor of the Privacy Law Certificate, and Assistant Director of the Tech Edge JD program. His research focuses on Internet Law, Intellectual Property, and Advertising & Marketing Law, and he blogs on those topics at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog.
Why do you write?
I write to help readers understand the world through the unique perspectives I have. I get a lot of professional satisfaction when I get an email from a stranger who says that they read one of my works and it helped them solve a thorny problem or see things in a new way.
Is there a scholar who most inspires you?
I am inspired by many scholars, but Prof. Pam Samuelson of UC Berkeley Law School stands out as especially inspirational. When I was first forming my professional identity as a scholar, I tried to emulate the way that Prof. Samuelson successfully wrote for multiple audiences, including other academics, policy-makers, and technologists. I also admire how Prof. Samuelson turns her research into tangible action that benefits the communities she serves.
What do you think has been your most impactful work? What impact did it have?
My most-read work is my explainer of the California Consumer Privacy Act, and my most cited work is my 2006 essay explaining how “bias” in search engines and other algorithmically mediated publications is both inevitable and beneficial.
However, I expect that my most impactful academic work will be my 2018 paper on Emojis and the Law. The Emojis and the Law paper has already been cited by courts in the US and internationally, and I’ve done several judicial trainings on the topic. It has also spurred conversations about how courts depict emojis in their opinions and how legal databases handle those symbols. The paper has crossed over to non-legal audiences, and I’ve done interviews around the globe discussing it. As a sign of its broad appeal, it interested the most skeptical audience imaginable: my teenage daughter.
I also want to highlight a project of mine that I anticipate will have even greater impact. In 2018, the High Tech Law Institute held a conference called “Content Moderation and Removal at Scale.” The conference successfully brought together the community of content moderation professionals. This community clearly wanted to continue the conversation but lacked an infrastructure to do so. To fill that gap, I was part of a team that in June 2020 launched two new organizations, the Trust & Safety Professional Association and the Trust & Safety Foundation, to cater to content moderation professionals. These organizations will benefit tens of thousands of content moderation workers across the globe; and by helping them do their jobs better, the organizations should improve the overall ecosystem for user-generated content online.
What work are you most proud of and why?
I’m especially proud of my 2019 paper, Why Section 230 Is Better Than the First Amendment. This paper explained the crucial interplay between Section 230, the foundational law that powers the modern Internet, and the First Amendment. In doing so, it answered one of the critical questions facing policymakers considering Section 230 reform—if they reform or repeal Section 230, how will the Internet change when the First Amendment is the only remaining protection for free speech online? The answer is very troubling, and this paper shows why.
What’s your next project?
Over the next few years, I expect to spend much of my time fighting against the relentless and misguided efforts by legislatures to censor the Internet. Examples include Congressional efforts to reform or repeal Section 230 and state legislative efforts to “fix” the Internet by restricting the editorial freedoms of Internet services.