Will Frivolous Defamation Suits Be the End of the Internet?

Date: Friday, July 10, 2015

The explosion of online platforms enabling public participation — blogs, comment sections, review websites, and social media, among others — has let millions of individuals share opinions and exercise their freedom of speech online. However, such public declarations can also expose contributors to retaliation by the subjects of their commentary under the guise of defamation or libel suits.

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) are lawsuits that intend to censor and silence critics by intimidating them with the prospect of defending an expensive lawsuit. Twenty-eight states have enacted anti-SLAPP statutes to speed the process of dismissing of such lawsuits, but there is currently no federal anti-SLAPP legislation.

Our expert panel will discuss the current state of SLAPP legislation including the introduction of the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015, and what can be done to protect public participation and freedom of speech online.


  • Amy Austin, Publisher Emeritus, Washington City Paper (Bio)
  • Miranda Bogen, Policy Fellow, Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee (Bio) moderator
  • Laurent Crenshaw, Head of Federal Public Policy, Yelp (Bio)
  • Kevin Goldberg, Attorney, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth (Bio)
  • Jennie Rasmussen, Senior Policy Counsel, American Association for Justice