In-House Legal
Google GC Kent Walker on Internet Disruption and Censorship
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Google GC Kent Walker on Internet Disruption and Censorship

As we all know, the internet continually disrupts society on a

global scale. It has become a platform for the international

exchange of ideas and, more importantly, brought hundreds of

millions of people out of extreme poverty. But with this disruptive

platform comes challenges of safety and security, access to

information, and censorship within multiple legal systems. How can

we appropriately apply the legal standards and expectations from

every country in the world to the internet which is, by nature, an

international platform?

In this episode of In-House Legal,

Randy Milch interviews Google Senior Vice

President and General Counsel Kent Walker about

his path to general counsel of Google and the current legal

challenges the multinational technology company faces. Walker

examines internet disruption and censorship and talks about how

Google approaches the legal balance between personal privacy and

the government’s need for access to information.

Walker begins by talking about his path through the U.S.

Attorney’s office, AirTouch Communications, Netscape (which became

AOL), eBay, and then ending up in his current position at Google

and how different sources of training gave him the experience to be

a successful general counsel. Through his history in tech

companies, he has interacted with the evolution of information law

in privacy and defamation, jurisdictional questions, intellectual

property definitions, the limits on patents and copyright, and new

questions about antitrust in a digital economy.

Milch and Walker then transition into a discussion on threats

arising to the internet as it is today. As Google is intimately

involved in the balance between necessary encryption and government

access to information, Walker discusses how his legal department

approaches this fine line. Discussion inevitably turns to

censorship and the “right to be forgotten,” a misnomer actually

meaning the right to be delisted from the search engines. They talk

about self-censorship within tech companies like Facebook and

Twitter, collaboration in Silicon Valley after the Snowden

Revelations, and the international goal of access to information

and freedom of expression.

As general counsel and senior vice president for legal, policy,

trust, and safety at Google, Kent Walker is

responsible for managing Google's global legal team and advising

the company's board and management on legal issues and corporate

governance matters. Before joining Google, Walker held senior legal

positions at a number of leading technology companies. Earlier in

his career, Walker was an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the United

States Department of Justice, where he specialized in the

prosecution of technology crimes and advised the Attorney General

on management and technology issues.

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