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GNI submitted comments for the report that the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, is preparing on the legal framework governing the relationship between freedom of expression and the use of encryption and other technologies to transact and communicate securely online.
The Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) regime—which consists of hundreds of bilateral and multilateral treaties that regulate government-to-government requests for user data—has struggled to keep up with the enormous number of requests for digital evidence arising from global Internet services. A report by the Global Network Initiative, “Data Beyond Borders: Mutual Legal Assistance in the Internet Era,” outlines key principles and specific reforms to drive a human rights-based approach to MLA reform for the twenty-first century.
“When mutual legal assistance does not function swiftly and fairly, governments resort to other tactics such as demanding data localization or attempting to apply their laws extraterritorially,” says report author Andrew K. Woods, assistant professor of law at the University of Kentucky. He added, “It is therefore critical that states work together to make mutual legal assistance more efficient and more protective of human rights. This is not an impossible task: states that are serious about reforming MLA can implement many of the most-urgent reforms in the next year.”
The report recommends that states work together to create a secure electronic system for managing MLA requests, increase staffing for MLA issues, and conduct thorough trainings at all levels of law enforcement to ensure that MLA requests are generated and processed as efficiently as possible and in a way that respects international human rights.
GNI submitted evidence to the UK government review of communications and interception powers by David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.
Specifically, we recommend that the UK government:
The Global Network Initiative (GNI) released a report, “Closing the Gap: Indian Online Intermediaries and a Liability System Not Yet Fit for Purpose,” prepared by Copenhagen Economics, which found that online platforms that support user-generated content can become an important part of India’s Internet economy and contribute approximately INR 2.49 lakh crore (USD 41 Billion) by 2015—in addition to the contribution of other elements of the Internet economy.
This would mean that two years from now their GDP contribution may increase to more than 1.3 per cent, provided that the current legal liability regime is improved. Additionally, the positive productivity effects of online intermediaries will be significant—creating an even greater impact in India in areas like e-sales and e-procurement compared to their impact in Europe or the US.
Read the report here.
Read the executive summary here.
The Global Network Initiative today released a public report on the independent assessments of founding companies Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The assessments looked at cases of government requests implicating the rights of Internet users, and found that each company is making a good faith effort to implement GNI’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, and to improve over time.
“These independent assessments—the first of their kind—present a major step forward on human rights accountability in the technology sector,” said GNI Board Chair Jermyn Brooks. “They demonstrated in the many specific cases examined how companies, applying the GNI Principles, have in fact been able to limit the removal of content and the release of personal data as a result of government requests,” he continued.
The assessments focused on products and services that in the company’s view posed the most salient risks to freedom of expression and privacy—search, email, and photo and video sharing services—with cases identified through a process that included consultation with GNI’s non-company members. The report presents information in aggregate or anonymized form in order to allow public disclosure of how the companies review and respond to government requests without disclosing confidential information. The report also details examples of the recommendations made by the assessors to one or more companies. The process did not and cannot determine whether the companies have acted appropriately with respect to each of the many thousands of requests received each year from governments.