Addressing the risks of Internet-based harm: Professor Michael Geist’s renewed CRC paves the way for Canadian solutions

Posted on Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Professor Michael Geist

Governments once granted Internet platforms legal immunity from liability for the conduct of their users. But as issues like disinformation, cyber-bullying, and online defamation grow increasingly complex, a re-evaluation of long-held Internet policies has become crucial. Professor Michael Geist is taking on this challenge; he is aiming to develop solutions that address the risks of Internet-based harm while also safeguarding freedom of expression. The Canada Research Chairs Program has renewed Professor Geist’s Tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Internet and E-commerce Law, paving the way for his continued innovation in this important domain of Canadian law and policy.

With the renewal of this CRC, Professor Geist seeks to create Canadian-based solutions that address Canada’s current Internet laws and policies and fill the data and policy voids on this important topic. His ambitious research program includes theoretical and legal analysis, original field research, and the development of Canadian-specific policy reforms. The emerging appetite for heightened liability creates a particularly difficult challenge for middle-power countries such as Canada, which will need to establish domestic solutions in an increasingly complex global arena dominated largely by U.S.-based Internet companies. Professor Geist’s proposed research builds directly upon his prior CRC work to promote a better understanding of the legal, cultural, and societal impacts of emerging technologies and of Canada’s role in response to emerging global governance challenges.

Professor Geist was initially awarded the CRC in Internet and E-commerce Law (Tier 2) in 2003, which he successfully renewed in 2008. He has held the Tier 1 CRC since 2013. CRC support has played a significant role in helping Professor Geist bring his research program to a global audience, enabling him to produce and disseminate research that has helped shape public policy and law reform in Canada and internationally. His research into Internet and e-commerce, digital trade, privacy and surveillance, and digital copyright has garnered global attention, with publications in peer-reviewed books and public opinion pieces. CRC funding has also been instrumental in Professor Geist’s receipt of two SSHRC Insight Grants, a SSHRC Connection Award, and the Order of Ontario. This combined support has led to new training opportunities for dozens of researchers, facilitated hundreds of public lectures around the world, and has enabled Professor Geist to contribute to large international networks in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in the fields of digital law and public policy.

The Canada Research Chairs Program invests up to $295 million annually to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Chairholders aim to achieve research excellence in engineering and the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

Congratulations to Professor Geist on this impressive and well-earned achievement!

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