Intermediary liabilityIntermediary Liability and Content Regulation

“Intermediary liability” describes the allocation of legal responsibility to content providers of all kinds for regulated categories of content. The presumption against governments imposing intermediary liability on online platforms for user-generated content encourages user free expression, as well as platform innovation, and is often credited with facilitating the tremendous expansion of internet and mobile communications networks across the world. More recently, conversations around the regulation of platform “content moderation” practices has emerged as a related area of governmental focus.

GNI seeks to preserve and expand free-expression protections for individuals throughout the ICT value-chain. Since 2009, GNI has issued numerous statements highlighting the importance of intermediary protections, engaged in open government consultations, and called attention to and expressed concern about problematic laws, policies, and actions in a number of countries and contexts.  For instance, GNI has promoted good practices for companies and governments in addressing alleged terrorist or extremist content online while respecting human rights, informed by extensive multistakeholder consultation on this challenging topic.

In 2020, GNI released Content Regulation and Human Rights: Analysis and Recommendations,” a policy brief that analyzes more than 20 recent governmental initiatives that claim to address various forms of digital harm. The brief offers practical guidance for governments and other stakeholders on how to formulate and implement content regulations that are effective, fit-for-purpose, and enhance and protect the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

GNI Statement on Government Efforts to Ban Digital Communications Platforms

February 22, 2023|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions|

GNI is troubled by recent efforts by democratic states to completely ban the use of digital communications platforms, which pose significant human rights risks and are likely to have global ramifications. When governments have legitimate concerns about the impacts and conduct of digital platforms, including the ways companies handle and share data, they should use the authorities granted to them through democratically passed laws to push for greater clarity and transparency on companies’ practices.

GNI statement on Türkiye’s continued push to regulate digital content and pressure intermediaries

January 24, 2023|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, legal frameworks, media releases|

The Global Network Initiative (GNI), a global, multistakeholder organization focused on freedom of expression and privacy in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, expresses deep concern about new laws targeting social media and private messaging services in Türkiye. GNI calls on the Turkish government, regulators, and policymakers to reconsider [...]

GNI Submits Analysis on Industry Codes Pursuant to Australia

October 4, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight|

Full Submission (PDF) GNI welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback on the industry codes recently published for comment pursuant to the Online Safety Act. GNI’s global and multistakeholder membership is closely following developments in Australia, in no small part because of the important role that Australia plays as a model [...]

GNI Submits Analysis on Industry Codes Pursuant to Australia

October 4, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight|

In our submission, we emphasize that international human rights law should always be at the center of company and government decisions related to freedom of expression, including during times of conflict. In particular, regulators should limit and clarify circumstances where proactive detection of harmful content is required.

GNI Statement: E.U. Sanctions on Russian Broadcasters

August 3, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, media releases|

GNI issued a statement outlining a series of concerns regarding the impacts of the EU's sanctions on Russian broadcasters on freedom of expression. GNI recognizes the legitimate concerns about the Russian government's efforts to spread disinformation and propaganda regarding its unwarranted invasion of Ukraine, and the EU's right to respond to these threats. In sharing and publishing this statement, GNI seeks to highlight where the EU's current approach can be amended to ensure harms to freedom of expression are mitigated. 

The Global Network Initiative Welcomes the “Declaration for the Future of the Internet”

April 29, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, network disruptions, surveillance|

GNI welcomes the recent Declaration for the Future of the Internet, in particular the centrality of human rights and the emphasis placed on multistakeholder approaches. As a multistakeholder organization that has been working for over a dozen years to protect digital rights, GNI looks forward to continuing to engage with signatories and stakeholders, and will work to hold signatory nations to the principles laid out in this Declaration. Read more for the full statement.

GNI Statement: Proposed Amendments to Address “Cyberbullying” in Kazakhstan Likely to Further Restrict Speech and Privacy Online

April 6, 2022|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases|

GNI expresses concern about proposed amendments to Kazakhstan’s Law on Informatization. While the amendments’ stated goal is to reduce cyberbullying, it appears they will impose significant risks for freedom of expression and privacy in Kazakhstan and undermine this goal. The amendments could impose monitoring obligations on a wide range of ICT companies, increase the government’s authority to order content restrictions, and threaten shutdown of access to services that fail to comply. Read more for the full statement.