headshot of Mary Anne Franks

Mary Anne Franks, Ph.D.

The annual Hibbert R. Roberts Lecture in Public Policy will present Mary Anne Franks on Tuesday, September 18. The lecture is titled “The Cult of the Internet.” The event is sponsored by the Department of Politics and Government.

“The Cult of the Internet”

Contemporary society is in thrall to Internet worship. The “free” rhetoric of the Internet—free speech, free markets, free services—masks the high costs of a corporatized technocracy. The fundamentalist attachment to the Internet justifies and perpetuates a system in which privileged groups systematically shift the costs of reckless and destructive conduct to vulnerable groups. While the Internet’s capacity to transform human interaction has revolutionary potential, it has more often worsened existing forms of exploitation. By destabilizing distinctions between speech and conduct, encouraging impulsive and irrational habits, the Internet has facilitated new forms of discrimination, misinformation, and extremism.

About the speaker:

Franks is a professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law. She teaches First and Second Amendment law, cyber law, criminal law and procedure, and family law. She is also the President and Legislative & Tech Policy Director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization that seeks to harness the power of law, policy, and technology to protect equal rights.

Professor Franks holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School as well as doctorate and master’s degrees from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. Franks was previously a Bigelow Fellow and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and taught social studies and philosophy at Harvard University.