The rise of the internet and social media has opened fundamental new questions about the meaning of free speech in democratic society, Knight Institute Executive Director Jameel Jaffer told Taylor Owen for the Canadian podcast Big Tech.

Jaffer warned in the recent program that new technologies and business models are challenging the government’s ability to protect the freedoms of speech and association as well as the right to privacy.

“A real question is whether the First Amendment is up to the task of protecting free speech in the digital age, when so many of the threats to free speech are coming, not from state actors, but from private ones,” said Jaffer.

A key question, Jaffer suggested, is what values we are trying to protect. His view? “We want to protect everybody's right to participate in the conversation. We want to ensure that free speech works for our democracy.”

In the 40-minute podcast, produced by the independent Canadian think tank, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, Jaffer and Owen spoke at length about the regulation of online speech, the challenges of disinformation and discrimination online, and new legislation being proposed in Canada.   

Listen to the full podcast below or read the transcript.