Jurisdictional Assertions and Limits

The transfer and storage of data across different jurisdictions is a byproduct of the global, interoperable Internet. However, it can also result in pressures on legal systems designed for the pre-internet age. GNI is concerned that efforts to assert authority across borders and/or limit the free flow of data can impede privacy and freedom of expression, and have the potential to undermine the open Internet.

GNI has engaged on a range of issues that raise important questions about when governments can and should assert authority over data in ways that impact how companies store and process data abroad. These include decisions through which authorities in one country seek to influence the content visible in other countries, as well as data localization laws which seek to impede the ability of companies to transfer data freely across borders.

When it comes to law enforcement requests for data held by companies in other countries, GNI’s framework helps companies respond in ways that protect the privacy rights of their users. GNI also supports efforts to streamline and better-resource the existing Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) system, which allows law enforcement in one country to request evidence stored in other country in order to prosecute crime. In 2015, GNI commissioned a report, “Data Beyond Borders: Mutual Legal Assistance in the Internet Age,” which sets out key recommendations to update MLATs for the digital age. The report drew on the expertise of our multi-stakeholder membership and has been the basis of extensive advocacy directed at governments and international organizations.

GNI also believes it is important to consider complementary approaches that could allow companies who hold data abroad to respond directly, in certain instances, to governments whose laws and procedures meet relevant international human rights standards. GNI provided views on the essential criteria that such an approach must meet in its October 2017 submission to the European Commission, and provided further context in our subsequent July 2018 comment on proposed European e-evidence regulation.

 

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. 

GNI Submission to UN Human Rights on the Practical Applications of UNGPs to ICT Companies

February 28, 2022|Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, legal frameworks|

The Global Network Initiative (GNI) welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the practical application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) to the activities of technology companies ahead of the March 7–8 consultation and subsequent [...]

GNI-Freedom House Workshop: Data Localization and Human Rights

July 8, 2021|Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, surveillance|

Data localization mandates can impact a broad range of human rights, including privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association, personal security, and non-discrimination. The workshop hosted by GNI and Freedom House explored the technical and legal dimensions of data localization requirements and featured company and non-company perspectives.
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Addressing Digital Harms AND Protecting Human Rights — GNI Shares Recommendations for Policymakers

October 13, 2020|feature, intermediary liability, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, Publication, reports|

"Content Regulation and Human Rights: Analysis and Recommendations" uses human rights to analyze more than 20 recent, governmental initiatives that claim to address various forms of digital harm. The brief is the result of months of multistakeholder analysis by GNI’s diverse, expert membership, as well as six virtual consultations with government actors and other key stakeholders in Africa, the EU, India, Pakistan, and the UK.

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 Statement on Domestic Cases Asserting Global Internet Jurisdiction

January 29, 2020|feature, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits|

Two recent rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union — Google vs. CNIL and Glawischnig-Piesczek vs. Facebook — fail to sufficiently consider freedom of expression and privacy risks when EU countries' domestic authorities assert global authority and jurisdiction over online content. Greater efforts at intergovernmental and multistakeholder deliberation are needed to determine the appropriate scope of application for domestic legal orders on global internet companies.
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New World Borders: How Governments Assert Authority Across Borders in the Internet Age

October 2, 2018|events, feature, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, media releases, Multimedia|

Although the transfer of data across jurisdictions is a fundamental byproduct of the global, interoperable Internet, it can also put pressures on legal systems designed for the pre-Internet age. For the 2018 Learning Forum, "New World Borders." GNI joined with ASIL and OTI at New America to explore pressing questions related to jurisdiction and human rights online.

Experts Share International Perspectives on the CLOUD Act at Capitol Hill Event

October 2, 2018|events, feature, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, media releases|

On 18 September, GNI convened a group of experts to discuss how possible partner countries measure against the criteria the U.S. CLOUD Act sets out for bilateral agreements for evidence sharing, how Congress can help ensure the agreements protect human rights, and how the law may impact Internet governance globally.

GNI Provides Feedback on European Commission’s Proposal on Requests to Access Electronic Evidence Across Borders

July 24, 2018|feature, Issues, issues highlight, Jurisdictional Assertions & Limits, Publication, Resources, Uncategorized|

GNI recognizes that the Commission's proposal on requests to access electronic evidence across borders may expedite legitimate law enforcement investigations, but implementation also raises potential risks for users' rights. Read our recommendations