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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter aims to provide a taxonomy of the different types of liability which may be imposed upon internet intermediaries, and a theoretical framework for talking about problems of liability. This taxonomy is intended to situate each of these areas within an overall framework for analysing legal responsibility and the different ways in which it may be imposed upon facilitators of harm. First, this chapter begins by considering what is meant by ‘liability’ and identifying the different forms that it may take, consistently with widespread assumptions about moral agency and individual responsibility. Secondly, this chapter analyses how liability may be attributed or imputed for the acts and omissions of others, noting a distinction between two models of responsibility which may be termed ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ (or accessory) liability. Thirdly, this chapter considers the functions and policy justifications for imposing liability onto intermediaries for the acts or omissions of others. Finally, this chapter provides an overview of the main kinds of wrongdoing for which intermediaries may, in principle, be liable, by reference to English and EU law, several of which are discussed in more detail elsewhere in this work.

Keywords: intermediary liability, internet intermediary, tort, primary liability, secondary liability, accessory liability, strict liability, negligence, joint tortfeasor, safe harbour, injunctions, remedies, enforcement costs, copyright, defamation, hate speech, online harms, privacy, fundamental rights, disclosure

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