Dr. Randall Stephenson, LL.M. (Columbia), M.St., D.Phil. (Oxon)

Senior Researcher


Dr. Steph­en­son's com­par­at­ive re­search at the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Law ex­am­ines the im­pact of the In­ter­net and di­git­al com­mu­nic­a­tions on net­worked ac­count­ab­il­ity dy­nam­ics in con­tem­por­ary demo­cra­cies. His prin­cip­al re­search pro­ject, Demo­cracy and State Secrets: Cal­ib­rat­ing Pub­lic Ac­count­ab­il­ity in Mod­ern In­tel­li­gence Gath­er­ing, ex­am­ines wheth­er mass 'full-take' in­form­a­tion sur­veil­lance (and its leg­al au­thor­isa­tion) is con­sist­ent with es­tab­lished prin­ciples of self-govern­ance, in­clud­ing the­or­ies of sep­ar­a­tion of powers, ju­di­cial re­view, and demo­crat­ic ac­count­ab­il­ity.


Ran­dall Ste­phen­son is a com­pa­ra­ti­ve pu­blic law and de­fa­ma­ti­on scholar spe­cia­li­sing in the in­ter­sec­ti­ons bet­ween press free­dom, de­mo­cra­tic theo­ry, and net­wor­ked ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty dy­na­mics. Af­ter ob­tai­ning his MSt and DPhil at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ox­ford (the lat­ter awar­ded wi­thout re­vi­si­ons or cor­rec­ti­ons), his doc­to­ral the­sis was pu­blis­hed by a lea­ding aca­de­mic is­su­er. A Cri­sis of De­mo­cra­tic Ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty: Pu­blic Li­bel Law and the Checking Func­ti­on of the Press (Ox­ford: Hart 2018) ex­ami­nes the mo­dern ri­se of pu­blic in­te­rest/po­li­ti­cal speech de­fences in li­bel law. It ar­gues that the law and le­gal ap­proa­ches in the UK, Aus­tra­lia, New Zea­land, Ca­na­da, and the Uni­ted States are un­dertheo­ri­sed, lack ade­qua­te cri­te­ria for de­ter­mi­ning sui­ta­ble doc­tri­nal ap­proa­ches, and re­qui­re a mo­re pre­ci­se un­der­stan­ding of ‘de­mo­cra­cy’, ‘re­pre­sen­tation’, and ‘ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty’. The book’s in­ter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry law re­forms in­cor­po­ra­te in­no­va­ti­ve ad­van­ces in pu­blic ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty schol­ar­ship, re­com­men­ding ju­ris­dic­ti­ons ad­just their pu­bic li­bel doc­tri­ne to match their un­i­que ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty profile and in­sti­tu­tio­nal net­works. Dr Ste­phen­son’s le­gal schol­ar­ship has sin­ce be­en pu­blis­hed in The Mo­dern Law Re­view, the Ox­ford Jour­nal of Le­gal Stu­dies, and the Os­goo­de Hall Law Jour­nal. Be­fo­re at­ten­ding Ox­ford, Dr Ste­phen­son prac­ti­ced li­ti­ga­ti­on as a se­ni­or as­so­cia­te at Os­ler, Hoskin & Har­court LLP, a lea­ding busi­ness law firm in To­ron­to, Ca­na­da, and stu­died un­der pro­mi­nent First Amend­ment schol­ars and at­tor­neys du­ring his LLM stu­dies at Co­lum­bia Law School. He was al­so a pa­ne­list at the Law Com­mis­si­on of On­ta­rio's in­ter­na­tio­nal con­fe­rence on De­fa­ma­ti­on Law and the In­ter­net: Whe­re Do We Go From He­re? – one of the most tho­rough and wi­de-ran­ging ap­prai­sals of di­gi­tal com­mu­ni­cation's im­pact on de­fa­ma­ti­on law and pu­blic dis­cour­se to da­te. 


Demokratie und Staatsgeheimnisse

Projektleitung: Ran­dall Ste­phen­son
Diese rechtsvergleichende Untersuchung befasst sich mit dem Einfluss, den Internet und digitale Kommunikation heutzutage auf vernetzte Accoun­t­a­bi­lity­mechanis­men in verschiedenen Demokratien (Deutschland, USA, Groß­bri­tan­nien) haben. Vor dem Hintergrund… mehr

Ein neuer Ansatz zur Regulierung digitaler Medien

Heads of project: J. Rinceanu, R. Ste­phen­son, P. Granata, F. Zufall
The Internet and social media have triggered a radical shift in our digital media environment. Discourse production in society has moved onto a new medium and changed its structure and dy­namic. The most fundamental features of… mehr

Zur Redakteursansicht