Such intermediaries are effectively gatekeepers are those who enable – and control – our access to that information, and this raises profound issues of principle about the role of intermediary gatekeepers in the structure of free speech […]. At present, such intermediary gatekeepers are all private entities, operating to their own rules, and it is not at all clear how they can be made accountable to their users or the wider public for their private actions. Given the practical, social and legal issues that arise in policing content in such a quasi-public sphere [see below for link], it has been argued that search engines and other intermediaries should have public interest obligations, perhaps by analogy with common law duties that govern public utilities [see below for link]. In particular, free speech norms should not only be about protecting speakers against a heavy-handed state but also about protecting speakers and readers against heavy-handed intermediate gatekeepers. This debate is now being played out online and on the op-ed pages of US news papers.

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