Regulating Discourse: Is International Trade Law the Right Avenue for Content Governance?

Date: December 11, 2023 (Monday)

Period: 1pm to 2pm

Venue: Room 723, 7/F Cheng Yu Tung Tower, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract: Historically, international trade law, through the WTO, was once seen as a means to uphold free expression, albeit limitedly. Recently, the US sought to globalize its Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act via trade talks, potentially reshaping global online speech norms. This approach, however, often conflicts with other nations’ legal frameworks regarding civil liability and constitutional law. While the exportation of CDA 230 is paused for now, it spotlighted international trade law’s possible role in content regulation, intersecting with international human rights law. Given the surge in online harmful content and varying state-level governance approaches, the question arises: Is trade law apt for tackling these digital-age challenges?

About the speaker: Dr. Han-Wei Liu joined the Singapore Management University School of Law as Associate Law Professor in July 2023, following positions at Monash and National Tsing Hua University. Focusing on international economic law and its interplay with new technologies and financial regulations, his journey into academia followed a legal stint at major firms like Baker & McKenzie. His research has garnered various governmental grants and recognition from institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Currently, Professor Liu is the Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law’s International Law & Technology Interest Group and Associate Editor at the Journal of World Trade.