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 Expresses Concern About Proposed ‘Fake News’ Law in Brazil

June 29, 2020|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, surveillance|

Several provisions of the proposed "Law of Freedom, Responsibility, and Transparency on the Internet” in Brazil would be counterproductive to the stated intent of the bill and pose risks for freedom of expression and privacy. Brazil’s legislature should heed calls from international experts and civil society and take care to respect the rights enshrined in Marco Civil by rejecting the bill and engaging in meaningful and transparent multi-stakeholder consultation to find a truly rights-respecting way forward.

Content Regulation and Human Rights: Report on a GNI Multistakeholder Roundtable on the Digital Services Act

June 25, 2020|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases, Publication|

On June 4, 2020, GNI hosted a multistakeholder roundtable discussion to examine key provisions of the anticipated European Union Digital Services Act through the lens of international human rights law. Held under Chatham House Rule, the online event was attended by nearly 70 guests, including EU policymakers and experts from academia, civil society, and ICT companies. Read more in the event report.   

Event Summary and Video Recording: “The Rights Foundation: Building Human Rights into the DSA”

June 11, 2020|events, feature, intermediary liability, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, Multimedia|

On 28 May, GNI brought together UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, and a set of experts from GNI’s multistakeholder membership to explore a human rights-based approach to content regulation in the context of EU Digital Services Act (DSA). Read the event recap or watch the video recording.

GNI Expresses Serious Concern Regarding Pakistan’s Rules Against Online Harm

February 26, 2020|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, media releases, surveillance|

The Citizens Protection (Rules Against Online Harm) 2020, approved by the Government of Pakistan on 21 January 2020, creates significant risks for the privacy and free expression rights of ICT users both within and outside of Pakistan.

GNI Joins Christchurch Call Advisory Network

November 27, 2019|intermediary liability, issues highlight|

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) is pleased to join the Christchurch Call Advisory Network, whose participating members were announced on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2019. “GNI’s multistakeholder membership looks forward to continuing to engage with participating governments, companies, and other stakeholders to address extremist [...]

GNI Submission to the Consultation on the UK Online Harms White Paper

July 2, 2019|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight|

We are concerned that the approach outlined in the White Paper is both too broad and unnecessarily vague. We ask the government to take the time necessary to narrow and flesh-out its approach in more detail, in broad consultation with all stakeholders and before moving forward with legislation, in order to protect freedom of expression online, promote innovation and competition, and provide the coherence and certainty that the government seeks to deliver.

Letter to Prime Minister Ardern and President Macron on the Christchurch Call

May 13, 2019|feature, intermediary liability, issues highlight, Letter|

Given the potential ramifications for civil society, journalists, technology platforms, and global users, it is essential that the Christchurch Call is conducted in an open and inclusive manner. Substantively, GNI members underscore the importance of framing the call in international human rights language.

GNI Welcomes LIBE Committee Amendments, Calls for Further Changes to the Proposed European Regulation on Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorist Content Online

April 16, 2019|feature, intermediary liability, issues highlight, media releases|

Retaining amendments from the LIBE Committee, including the removal of problematic provisions on extra-legal referrals and proactive measures, is essential for human rights. But GNI remains concerned over one-hour timelines for removal and the role of non-judicial authorities in determining the legality of content.

GNI Expresses Concern About the Freedom of Expression and Privacy Implications of Australia’s “Sharing of Violent Abhorrent Material” Bill

April 5, 2019|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, media releases|

At a time when states around the world are considering various approaches to regulating Internet content, GNI is concerned that the government of Australia’s efforts to rush through the "Sharing of Violent Abhorrent Material" Bill could have significant negative impacts on freedom of expression and privacy for Internet users in Australia and beyond.

Understanding the Human Rights Risks Associated with Internet Referral Units

February 25, 2019|feature, intermediary liability, issues highlight, media releases|

A review of Europe’s Internet Referral Units shows the need for greater transparency, remedy, and accountability. The proposal in the draft EU terrorist content regulation to expand government take-down referrals to companies poses similar, if not greater, risks for users' freedom of expression and privacy.