DATE: June 24, 2024
TIME: 9:00 AM — 3:45 PM
LOCATION: AGU | 2000 Florida Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009


As federal and state policymakers grapple with how to regulate emerging AI technology, there is an urgent need to address the implications of policy proposals on free speech and open discourse. Policymakers around the world have focused on the potential dangers of AI, often assuming that regulation is necessary.

In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden announced that he wanted to “[h]arness the promise of A.I. and protect us from its peril,” including proposals to “[b]an A.I. voice impersonation and more.” Meanwhile, the E.U. recently adopted sweeping regulations that could significantly impact AI companies’ content and moderation policies in the U.S. 

What threats does AI pose to our information environment? What steps can and should policymakers take to address those threats without unduly burdening online free speech? 

A symposium organized by The Future of Free Speech at Vanderbilt University and the Center for Democracy and Technology will bring together leading voices from civil society, U.S. institutions, and the private sector. Panels will focus on proposed AI regulations in the context of the First Amendment and other free speech protections. The participants will discuss how freedom of expression principles, both in the U.S. and abroad, should apply to generative AI and explore ways to create a resilient free-speech culture.

Program and Speakers

Panel 1: The View from Congress

This panel will include a discussion of congressional and administration efforts to understand the emerging technology and take action to preserve access to its benefits while curbing risk and protecting free expression.


  • Halie Craig — Tech Policy Director, Senate Commerce Committee
  • John Beezer — Senior Advisor, Senate Commerce Committee
  • Jacqui Kappler — Chief Democratic Counsel, House Judiciary Committee

Panel 2: The First Amendment and AI

What is the scope of First Amendment protections for generative AI, including model outputs, model inputs, model design choices, and evaluations? Does Section 230 apply to generative AI? Should it? 


  • Jeff Kosseff — Non-Resident Senior Fellow, The Future of Free Speech
  • Eugene Volokh — Professor, UCLA Law School & incoming Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution at Stanford University
  • Keith Chu — Chief Communications Adviser and Deputy Policy Director, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)
  • Ben Wizner  — Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project
  • Moderator: Kate Ruane — Director, Free Expression Project, Center for Democracy & Technology

Panel 3: How Do Companies Balance Free Speech and Safety?

What tools and practices are AI providers using to promote safety and alignment broadly and limit the production of CSAM, terrorist content, etc.? What are the impacts on specific users (e.g., non-English speaking communities, or persons with disabilities)? 


  • Dave Willner — Non-Resident Fellow, Program on Governance of Emerging Technologies at Stanford University
  • Jules White — Professor of Computer Science, Vanderbilt University
  • Jess Miers — Senior Counsel, Chamber of Progress
  • Jacob Mchangama — Founder and Executive Director, The Future of Free Speech and Research Professor, Vanderbilt University

Panel 4: Civil Society’s Role in the AI Boom

How do we ensure that civil society and other stakeholders have a meaningful role in helping to shape company policies and practices around generative AI? Should there, for example, be an equivalent of the Santa Clara principles for generative AI? What are the existing multistakeholder bodies that might provide a venue for shaping these policies?


  • Nadine Farid Johnson — Policy Director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University
  • Ashkhen Kazaryan — Senior Fellow, Free Speech & Peace, Stand Together
  • Representative from Center for Democracy & Technology

The program is still being finalized. Check back here for updates.

About Us

The Future of Free Speech is an independent, non-partisan think tank located at Vanderbilt University. It works to restore a resilient global culture of free speech in the digital age through knowledge, research, and advocacy.


The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is the leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization fighting to advance civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age. It shapes technology policy, governance, and design with a focus on equity and democratic values.