Faculty members earn SSHRC Insight Grants for projects exploring online liability policies and the experiences of surrogates

Posted on Friday, October 18, 2019

Professors Michael Geist and Vanessa Gruben have been awarded Insight Grants by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for projects that each seek to fill a research void: Professor Geist will investigate new ways Canada can protect freedom of expression while addressing risks of online harm; while Professor Gruben will develop the first empirical research on the perspectives of women who have acted as surrogates in Canada.

Professor Geist’s grant is for a project entitled “Internet platforms and the law: toward a Canadian model for online liability and responsibility”. This research explores the responsibility borne by internet platforms for the content posted by their users. Governments once granted Internet platforms broad legal immunity from liability, but the risks associated with disinformation, cyber-bullying, online defamation, privacy breaches, copyright infringement and other harms has sparked a re-thinking of long-held policies. This project seeks to develop Canadian-based solutions that address risks of harm while also safeguarding freedom of expression, filling the current policy and data void with an ambitious agenda that includes theoretical and legal analysis, original field research, and the development of Canadian-specific policy reforms.

Professor Gruben’s grant, on which Professor Angela Cameron serves as a co-applicant, is for a project entitled “Surrogates’ Voices: Exploring Surrogates’ Experiences and Insights”.  Informed discussion about surrogacy regulation in Canada is constrained because there is almost no empirical research on women’s experiences as surrogates or surrogacy practices in Canada. As a result, the fertility industry, brokers and clinicians have shaped the regulatory environment and discussions about law reform. Little attention has been paid to the perspectives of women who have acted as surrogates. The over-arching objective of Professor Gruben’s research project is to determine whether surrogates in Canada are vulnerable to exploitation and what factors contribute to or ameliorate the potential for exploitation.

The SSHRC insight Program aims to build knowledge and understanding about people, societies and the world by supporting research excellence.

Congratulations to Professor Geist and Professor Gruben!

Back to top