21NTC Session

What Nonprofits Should Know About Online Censorship

This is a resubmission of an accepted 20NTC session proposal.


When the Internet Society announced that it was selling the Public Interest Registry to private equity firm Ethos Capital, many NGO leaders worried that as a for-profit company, the registry might be susceptible to pressure by governments to censor nonprofits’ websites. In an increasingly global NGO sector, repressive governments have become ever savvier at exploiting the policies of online platforms, domain name registries, and other intermediaries to silence their critics.

Here in the US, new censorship laws can also bring challenges to nonprofits’ ability to work effectively. Recent legislation aimed at fighting human trafficking has thrown nonprofits’ harm reduction work into a legal gray area.

In this session, we will discuss the “weak links” that can be exploited by governments and other people in power to silence nonprofits’ work and how nonprofits are working together to fight back.

Session Type

60 minute session

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the “weak links” where nonprofits’ speech online is vulnerable to censorship.
  • Learn stories of real nonprofits, NGOs, and activists who have faced censorship online.
  • Learn how current proposals in Congress could put nonprofits at risk of censorship.

Target Audience

Nonprofit leadership, especially of organizations that provide services to at-risk groups. People who manage nonprofit websites.


Emerging TechPanelPolicyStrategy


Cara Gagliano

Staff Attorney

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Cara’s work at EFF focuses on trademark and copyright issues, particularly where they intersect with freedom of expression. In late 2019/early 2020, Cara co-led the successful Save .ORG campaign, which brought together nonprofits and civil society organizations from around the world to stop the sale of the .ORG domain registry to a private equity firm. She also works on EFF’s Coders’ Rights Project, assisting programmers, developers, and researchers who are helping to build a safer future for us all.

Cara came to EFF from O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where her practice focused on trademark litigation and counseling. She holds a J.D. from New York University and a B.A. in linguistics from Northwestern University.

Dia Kayyali

Associate Director of Advocacy


Dia Kayyali is Associate Director for Advocacy at Mnemonic, the umbrella organization for Syrian Archive, Yemeni Archive, and Sudanese Archive. In their role, Dia focuses on the real-life impact of policy decisions made by lawmakers and technology companies about content moderation and related topics. Previously, Dia served as Program Manager for tech + advocacy at WITNESS. They got their start in digital rights as an Activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Dia serves as co-chair for the Advisory Network to the Christchurch Call.

Jessica Dheere


Ranking Digital Rights

Jessica Dheere is director of Ranking Digital Rights, and co-authored RDR’s spring 2020 report “Getting to the Source of Infodemics: It’s the Business Model.” An affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, she is also founder, former executive director, and board member of the Beirut-based Arab digital rights organization SMEX. In 2019 she launched the CYRILLA Collaborative, which catalogs global digital rights law and case law. She was also an inaugural member of the Freedom Online Coalition’s Advisory Network and has presented at the Internet Governance Forum, the Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy, RightsCon, and the International Journalism Festival, among other international internet policy events. She is a graduate of Princeton University and the New School.

Sarah Deutsch


Law Office of Sarah B. Deutsch

Sarah Deutsch is an attorney with over 30 years of experience in internet policy, intellectual property, privacy and related issues. Sarah formerly was Vice President and Deputy General Counsel at Verizon Communications, where she spent over 23 years in the Legal Department. She was responsible for Verizon’s global intellectual property practice, and was the first attorney to oversee its Privacy Office, including managing its Chief Privacy Officer, attorneys and staff. Sarah has extensive experience in Internet policy issues, and served as the primary subject matter expert in the Legal Department responsible for Internet issues since the mid 1990s. Sarah is well known for representing Verizon in the copyright case of RIAA v. Verizon, in which the DC Circuit Court ruled in favor of Verizon and protected Internet users’ privacy.

Sarah was one of the five negotiators for the U.S. telecommunications industry in negotiations, which resulted in the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). She was the 2014 recipient of the Managing IP In-House Counsel Award at the America’s Women in Business Law Awards. In 2009, she received the Public Knowledge President’s Award for Extraordinary Dedication to Protecting the Free Flow of Information Over the Internet. In Spring of 2019, Sarah was a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, teaching a class on emerging privacy issues.

She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the National Center for Health Research, the Edgemoor Research Institute and OpenCape.



March 23, 2021


9:45am – 10:45am