The Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability Background Paper

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The  Manila  Principles  on   Intermediary  Liability   Background  Paper Version  0.99,  22  March  2015   Table  of  Contents  

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Preface  ....................................................................................................................................  2   Introduction  ............................................................................................................................  3   Scope  ......................................................................................................................................  4  

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Definitions  ...............................................................................................................................  5   Intermediaries  .............................................................................................................................................................................  5   Intermediary  Liability  ..............................................................................................................................................................  8   Governments  ................................................................................................................................................................................  8   User  Content  Provider  ..............................................................................................................................................................  8   Content  Restriction  Orders  ....................................................................................................................................................  8   Content  Restriction  Requests  ................................................................................................................................................  9  

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Legal  Background  ....................................................................................................................  9   Human  Rights  Law  .....................................................................................................................................................................  9   Trade  and  Competition  ..........................................................................................................................................................  10   Intermediary  Liability  Practices  ..............................................................................................  12   Intermediary  Liability  Models  ............................................................................................................................................  12   Soft  Pressure  ...............................................................................................................................................................................  15   Approaches  to  Content  Restriction  ..................................................................................................................................  16   Manila  Principles  for  Intermediary  Liability  ...........................................................................  18   Principle  I:  Intermediaries  should  be  shielded  by  law  from  liability  for  third  party  content  .................  18   Principle  II:  Order  and  requests  for  the  restriction  of  content  should  be  clear  and  unambiguous  ......  29   Principle  III.  Content  restriction  policies  and  practices  must  be  procedurally  fair  ....................................  33   Principle  IV.    The  extent  of  content  restriction  must  be  minimized  ..................................................................  39   Principle  V.  Transparency  and  accountability  should  be  built  in  to  content  restriction  practices  ......  43   Principle  VI.  The  development  of  intermediary  liability  policies  should  be  participatory  and   inclusive  ........................................................................................................................................................................................  52  

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Preface   This   background   paper   describes   six   principles   to   guide   government,   industry   and   civil   society   in   the   development   of   best   practices   related   to   the   regulation   of   online   content   through  intermediaries.       These  six  principles  are: I. II. III. IV. V. VI.

Intermediaries  should  be  shielded  by  law  from  liability  for  third-­‐party  content   Orders  and  requests  for  the  restriction  of  content  must  be  clear  and  unambiguous     Content    restriction  policies  and  practices  must  be  procedurally  fair   The  extent  of  content  restriction  must  be  minimized   Transparency  and  accountability  must  be  built  in  to  content  restriction  practices     The   development   of   intermediary   liability   policies   must   be   participatory   and   inclusive  

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Each   principle   contains   subsidiary   points   that   expand   upon   the   theme   of   the   principle   to   cover  more  specific  issues.

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These  Manila  Principles  were  developed  by  an  open,  collaborative  process  conducted  by  a   broad  coalition  of  civil  society  groups  and  experts  from  around  the  world.  This  process  was   inspired   in   part   by   the   International   Principles   on   the   Application   of   Human   Rights   to   Communications  Surveillance  (the  13  Principles).1

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Leading   the   work   was   a   steering   committee   consisting   of   members   from   the   Electronic   Frontier   Foundation   (USA),   the   Centre   for   Internet   and   Society   (India),   Article   19   (UK),   KIKANET   (Kenya),   Derechos   Digitales   (Chile),   Asociación   por   los   Derechos   Civiles   (Argentina)   and   Open   Net   (South   Korea),   who   developed   the   first   working   draft   of   the   background   paper   and   principles,   releasing   it   for   broader   public   consultation   and   feedback   in  December  2014. Over   the   following   months   the   draft   underwent   further   review   by   a   diverse   group   of   participants,   over   30   of   whom   attended   a   face   to   face   meeting   in   Manila,   Philippines   on   22-­‐ 23  March  2015  where  the  principles  were  finalized.  This  background  paper  also  takes  into   account  comments  from  that  broad  group  received  during  the  public  consultation,  however   it  has  not  undergone  the  same  in-­‐depth  review  by  the  broader  public  group,  therefore  it  is   being  published  by  the  steering  committee  alone,  who  take  responsibility  for  any  errors  it   may  contain.  

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See  “International  Principles  on  the  Application  of  Human  Rights  to  Communications  Surveillance”,  accessed   March  16,  2015.  

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Introduction   All   communication   on   the   Internet   requires   a   series   of   intermediaries   to   reach   its   audience.   Their   critical   role   in   facilitating   expression,   and   their   ability   to   control   and   influence   access   to  and  availability  of  content,  sometimes  invites  pressure  from  multiple  actors  who  want  to   control,   regulate,   investigate,   or   silence   online   content   and   speech.   Enforcing   disproportionate  or  heavy-­‐handed  liability  on  intermediaries  for  the  content  of  their  users,   including  extending  obligations  that  require  them  to  monitor  content  and  data  being  hosted   or  transmitted  online,  creates  barriers  to  expression  and  innovation.2  This  hinders  the  right   to  freedom  of  expression  as  recognized  at  the  international  level.3

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Thus,   it   is   vital   to   maintain   proportionate   limits   to   intermediary   liability   for   third   party   content   as   policies   and   laws   are   developed   to   defend   and   promote   free   expression   and   innovation.   It   is   also   valuable   to   encourage   greater   consistency   in   the   laws   and   practices   that   apply   to   intermediaries.   Such   consistency   is   particularly   needed   given   the   borderless   nature  of  the  Internet  and  the  global  reach  of  intermediaries.

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To   this   end,   we   have   come   together   to   develop   a   set   of   resources   to   help   guide   the   development   of   intermediary   liability   policies   that   can   foster   and   protect   a   free   and   open   Internet.   The   resources   that   we   are   developing   include   a   set   of   high-­‐level   principles   on   intermediary   liability,   a   set   of   frequently   asked   questions   about   the   principles,   this   background   paper,   and   a   jurisdictional   analysis.   These   are   intended   as   a   civil   society   contribution  to  help  guide  companies,  regulators  and  courts,  as  they  continue  to  build  out   the  legal  landscape  in  which  online  intermediaries  operate.  

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This  background  paper  in  turn  explores  emerging  trends  around  intermediary  liability  and   supports   and   expands   upon   each   principle,   drawing   on   existing   international   standards,   human   rights   frameworks,   jurisdictional   jurisprudence,   and   research   on   intermediary   liability   laws,   policies,   and   practices   around   the   world.   The   background   paper   builds   on   reports   at   the   international   level   published   by   the   United   Nations   Organization   for   Education,   Science   and   Culture   (UNESCO),   the   World   Intellectual   Property   Organization   (WIPO),   the   United   Nations   Special   Rapporteur   on   the   promotion   and   protection   of   the   right   to   freedom   of   opinion   and   expression,   and   the   United   Nations   Department   of   Economic   and   Social   Affairs   (UNDESA).   The   paper   also   references   best   practice   and   case   law   from   liability   regimes   across   Argentina,   Canada,   Chile,   India,   Kenya,   United   Kingdom   and  USA.  Lastly,  the  background  paper  draws  upon  research  by  the  Centre  for  Democracy   2

 See  Oxera  Consulting  LLP,  “The  economic  impact  of  safe  harbours  on  Internet  intermediary  start-­‐ups,”,   February  2015.   3  See  Article  19  International  Covenant  on  Civil  and  Political  Rights  (ICCPR),  Article  19  United  Declaration  of   Human  Rights  (UDHR).

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and   Technology   (CDT),   the   Association   for   Progressive   Communications   (APC),   Article   19   and  other  civil  society,  academia,  and  domain  experts.

Scope   This   paper   does   not   attempt   to   consider   all   aspects   of   the   relationship   between   intermediaries   and   the   users   whose   speech   they   help   enable,   their   readers   and   other   audiences   of   online   speech   (though   a   number   of   the   projects   that   we   draw   upon   and   cite   below,  do  have  a  broader  scope  than  this  one).  Rather,  we  will  be  concerned  solely  with  the   laws,   policies,   norms,   and   practices   that   relate   to   how   intermediaries   handle   third-­‐party   Internet   content   that   could   raise   criminal   or   civil   liability   issues   for   them   or   for   their   users.   Specifically,  the  principles  are  meant  to  be  directed  at  laws,  policies,  norms,  practices,  and   private   terms   of   service   that   relate   to   content   removal   or   filtering   as   well   as   platform   blocking  by  an  intermediary.

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In  general,  we  are  not  concerned  here  with  the  particular  legal  basis  on  which  liability  for   content   may   arise   or   the   reason   why   a   party   might   want   to   have   it   restricted;   that   is,   for   example,  whether  the  content  may  be  allegedly  defamatory,  copyright-­‐infringing,  seditious   or   fraudulent.   Neither   do   we   generally   draw   a   distinction   between   blocking   and   removal   of   content.   No   matter   the   ground   of   liability   the   content   may   attract,   or   the   nature   of   the   restriction,  there  are  many  common  principles  apportioning  potential  liability  between  the   intermediary   and   the   user   that   can   help   ensure   that   the   rights   and   interests   of   all   parties   are  respected,  as  well  as  the  public  interest.

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This  approach  does  not  necessarily  correspond  to  the  approach  taken  by  the  law.  In  many   jurisdictions   content   restriction   is   not   regulated   by   one   legal   regime,   in   that   for   example   governments  with  liability  regimes  that  regulate  the  removal  of  content  have  separate  legal   provisions   allowing   for   the   blocking   of   content.   These   provisions   often   allow   restriction   based   on   different   criteria   and   extent   of   liability,   and   courts   can   also   establish   their   own   standards  on  a  case-­‐by-­‐case  basis.   Other  laws,  policies,  norms,  and  practices  that  intermediaries  may  adopt  or  enforce  relating   to   Internet   content,   but   which   fall   outside   of   the   shadow   of   potential   liability   for   that   content,  are  not  directly  addressed  even  though  they  too  may  have  implications  for  users’   freedom   of   expression   online.   This   includes,   in   particular,   issues   of   network   neutrality.   However,  some  closely  associated  issues,  namely  particular  aspects  of  how  user  privacy  is   upheld   in   the   implementation   of   a   liability   regime,   are   also   included   within   the   scope   of   the   principles. We  considered  whether  the  principles  should  be  addressed  only  to  intermediaries,  or  only   to   governments,   but   limiting   our   audience   to   either   option   would   have   restricted   the   4

principles   from   addressing   all   appropriate   targets   capable   of   actioning   the   intended   reforms.   Our   approach   thus   recognizes   that   specific   stakeholders   have   distinctive   roles   in   any   intermediary   liability   regime,   and   hence   we   address   some   recommendations   to   all   concerned   stakeholders   and   others   to   specific   actors.   A   similar   hybrid   audience   is   addressed   in   other   international   documents,   such   as   the   United   Nations   Guidelines   for   Consumer  Protection.4

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The  principles  that  we  put  forward  are  not  as  prescriptive  as  laws  or  policies,  although,  in   the   context   of   content   removal,   their   implications   are   not   neutral   as   to   the   model   of   intermediary   liability   that   is   to   be   preferred.   Without   prescribing   a   single   model   for   adoption   in   all   cases,   the   application   of   the   principles   favors   a   model   that   provides   expansive   protections   against   liability,   whilst   recognizing   that   legal   and   operational   considerations   may   require   some   intermediaries,   particularly   those   who   are   not   mere   conduits,   to   assume   greater   responsibilities   for   content   than   others   (see   below   under   “Intermediary   Liability   Models”   where   these   terms   are   explained).   In   general   the   greater   the   obligations   that   a   model   imposes   upon   intermediaries,   the   more   human   rights   safeguards   will   be   required   to   establish   best   practices   for   that   model   that   are   consistent   with  these  principles.  

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Finally,  it  should  be  underlined  that  as  a  civil  society  document,  the  principles  intended  to   be   used   in   advocating   for   laws,   policies   and   procedures   that   uphold   the   human   rights   of   users.   Due   to   the   symbiotic   relationship   between   intermediaries   and   their   users,   the   limitation   of   intermediary   liability   naturally,   also   serves   the   intermediary’s   economic   interests—but  although  this  is  important,  the  aim  and  objective  of  these  principles  are  not   to   protect   the   economic   interests   of   intermediaries   themselves.   To   that   extent,   the   principles  that  we  develop  can  be  distinguished  from  industry-­‐developed  principles  such  as   the  2007  Principles  for  User  Generated  Content  Services.5

Definitions  

Intermediaries  

In   general   terms,   an   intermediary   is   “any   entity   that   enables   the   communication   of   information   from   one   party   to   another”.6   As   for   online   or   Internet   intermediaries   (whom   we  will  also  refer  to  simply  as  “intermediaries”  from  this  point),  we  have  operated  under  a   broad   definition,   shared   with   the   recent   UNESCO   report   “Fostering   Freedom   Online:   The   4  

See  United  Nations,  “United  Nations  Guidelines  for  Consumer  Protection  1995”,  2003,  accessed  March  16,   2015.   5  See  “Principles  for  User  Generated  Content  Services”,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  <   http://www.ugcprinciples.com/> 6  T.F.  Cotter,  “Some  Observations  on  the  Law  and  Economics  of  Intermediaries,”  Mich.St.L.Rev.67  (2006):  68-­‐71.

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Role  of  Internet  Intermediaries”7  from  which  this  background  paper  draws  extensively  (and   which   in   turn   draws   on   a   meta-­‐study   of   previous   work,   including   reports   from   the   OECD   and  CDT).  This  definition  holds:   Internet  intermediaries  bring  together  or  facilitate  transactions  between  third  parties   on   the   Internet.   They   give   access   to,   host,   transmit   and   index   content,   products   and   services  originated  by  third  parties  on  the  Internet  or  provide  Internet-­‐based  services   to  third  parties8.

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Examples  of  intermediaries  falling  within  that  definition  would  include: • Internet  Service  Providers  (ISPs)   • Search  engines   • Social  networks   • Cloud  service  providers   • E-­‐commerce  platforms   • Web  hosting  companies   • Domain  name  registrars   • Content  aggregators   • Individuals  who  run  open  Wi-­‐Fi  hotspots,  Tor  nodes,  etc.  

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There  are  some  edge  cases  that  do  not  clearly  fall  into  this  definition,  depending  on  one’s   interpretation.   These   include   manufacturers   of   products   (rather   than   services)   that   are   used   for   accessing   content,   such   as   Web   browser   and   Internet   filtering   software—though   these   are   amongst   the   six   classes   of   intermediary   that   APC   identifies   in   a   2014   paper,   “Internet   Intermediary   Liability:   Identifying   International   Best   Practices   for   Africa”.9   The   scope   of   this   paper   is   somewhat   narrower   than   the   APC   research,   in   that   we   are   only   considering   intermediaries’   liability   for   third-­‐party   content,   which   will   seldom   apply   to   product  vendors. Another   edge   case   is   that   of   content   producers,   who   are   normally   excluded   as   intermediaries,   but   in   some   cases   may   fulfill   both   roles.   For   example   Article   19   holds   the   position   that   online   newspapers   should   be   treated   as   intermediaries   for   the   purposes   of   user-­‐generated   content   (UGC),   even   while   they   also   remain   responsible   for   their   own   7

MacKinnon,  R,  Hickock,  E,  Bar,  A  and  Lim,  H,  “Fostering  Freedom  Online:  The  Role  of  Internet  Intermediaries,”   Unesco,  2014,  p.19,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   ,  henceforth  “the  UNESCO  report”.     8  OECD,  “The  Economic  and  Social  Role  of  Internet  Intermediaries,”  April  2010,  p.9,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   9  Association  for  Progressive  Communications,  “Internet  Intermediary  Liability:  Identifying  International  Best   Practices  for  Africa,”  November  2013,  p.  4,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   ,  (henceforth  “APC   report”)  

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content.10   A   troublesome   case   illustrating   this   distinction   is   that   of   Delfi   AS   v   Estonia,   where   the   European   Court   of   Human   Rights11   found   no   violation   of   the   right   to   freedom   of   expression  in  a  case  where  a  newspaper  was  held  liable  for  its  users’  comments.  This  was   despite  the  fact  that  the  newspaper  had  promptly  removed  the  content  at  issue  upon  notice   in  compliance  with  the  ECD.12   When   developing   liability   rules   for   intermediaries,   it   is   important   that   legal   requirements   are   appropriate   and   proportional   to   the   function   and   size   of   the   intermediary.   Thus   the   definition   of   an   intermediary   that   we   use   may   not   coincide   with   the   legal   definition   of   an   intermediary   in   a   particular   jurisdiction,   which   in   any   case,   differs   markedly   from   one   country   to   another.   For   example,   under   Chilean   net   neutrality   law,   intermediaries   are   limited   to   commercial   platforms,13   while   in   Indian   Internet   law   intermediaries   are   much   more   broadly   defined.14   APC’s   country   studies   in   Africa   also   showed   quite   varied   approaches.15

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For   simplicity   of   understanding,   it   can   be   useful   to   group   intermediaries   into   broad   categories,  and  naturally  various  approaches  to  this  exercise  have  been  adopted: • A   2013   report16   published   by   the   Organization   of   American   States   (OAS)   identifies   the   most   relevant   intermediaries   as   ISPs,   website   hosting   providers,   social  networking  platforms,  and  search  engines.     • The  UNESCO  report17  groups  them  into  three  general  types:  ISPs,  search  engines,   and  social  networks.   • CDA  230  speaks  of  interactive  computer  services,  information  content  providers   and  access  software  providers.  

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See  Article  19,  “Third  Party  Intervention  Submissions  by  Article  19,”  accessed  March  16,  2015.   11  See  European  Court  of  Human  Rights,  “Delfi  vs.  Estonia,”  October  10,  2013,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   12 See  Article  19,  “Article  19  to  European  Court  Online  news  sites  should  not  be  strictly  liable  for  third  party   content,”  June  18,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   13   See  “Ley  General  de  Telecomunicaciones  No.  18.168  de  1982”,  Biblioteca  del  Congreso  Nacional  de  Chile,   accessed  March  16,  2015.   14 See  “Information  and  Technology  Act  2000,”  Department  of  electronics  &  Information  Technology,  Ministry   of  Communications  &  IT,  Government  of  India,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     15 See  APC  report.   16   Inter-­‐American  Commission  on  Human  Rights.  Office  of  the  Special  Rapporteur  for  Freedom  of  Expression,   “Freedom  of  expression  and  the  Internet,”  2013,  accessed  March  16,  2015.    at  pg.  40   (henceforth  “OAS  report) 17  UNESCO  Report.  

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The   DMCA   separates   them   into   communications   conduits,   content   hosts   and   search  service  and  application  service  providers.       The   ECD   categorizes   intermediaries   according   to   class   based   on   their   function   and  includes  hosts,  conduits,  and  caching.  As  a  note,  such  a  distinction  does  not   address  linking  activities  of  search  engines  that  may  fall  under  different  types  of   intermediaries  such  as  host  or  conduit.  

Intermediary  Liability   The   definition   of   “intermediary   liability”   in   our   context   is   not   quite   as   broad   as   it   sounds.   It   refers  to  the  legal  liability  of  Internet  intermediaries  for  content  authored  by,  or  activities   carried   out   by,   third   parties.18   It   does   not   include   liability   that   intermediaries   may   incur   for   their  own  content,  or  for  other  reasons  altogether,  such  as  taxation  liability  or  liability  for   fraud  or  breach  of  contract.

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Governments  

User  Content  Provider  

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Governments  are  the  parties  who  issue  content  restriction  orders,  which  have  the  force  of   law   in   a   particular   jurisdiction.   Except   where   otherwise   specified,   references   to   governments  include  not  only  the  executive  branch  of  government,  but  also  courts.  Where   this  is  not  the  intention  (eg.  see  the  discussion  of  Principle  V.d  in  this  background  paper),   the  two  will  be  treated  separately.

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The   term   “user   content   provider”   refers   to   users   who   upload   material   or   share   material   with   others   via   an   intermediary.   This   material   may   be   user-­‐generated   content,   or   it   may   be   content   from   a   third-­‐party   that   the   user   uploads   or   publishes   to   the   intermediary’s   service.   The  user  content  provider  is  the  person  to  whom  primary  liability  may  attach  if  the  content   is  found  unlawful  by  a  court  of  law.  

Content  Restriction  Orders  

The   Manila   Principles   refer   to   “content   restriction   orders”   as   a   shorthand   reference   to   requests  issued  by  any  branch  or  agency  of  the  government.  This  includes  court  orders  and   executive   orders   which   are   legally   binding   for   the   removal,   blocking,   or   filtering   of  online   content  or  platforms.   18  

See  Edwards,  Lilian,  “Role  and  Responsibility  of  Internet  Intermediaries  in  the  Field  of  Copyright  and  Related   Rights,”  WIPO,  2011,  p.  3,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   ,  henceforth  “the  WIPO  report.”  

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Content  Restriction  Requests   The   Manila   Principles   refer   to   “restriction   requests”   as   a   shorthand   to   reference   requests   issued  directly  to  intermediaries  by  private  third  parties  for  the  removal  of  information,  or   executive  requests  that  seek  to  induce  intermediaries  to  remove  content  under  their  terms   of  service  or  by  an  untested  allegation  that  such  content  is  illegal.

Legal  Background   Human  Rights  Law    

A

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The   standards   from   which   a   basic   intermediary   liability   framework   can   be   constructed   already   exist,   most   notably   in   the   form   of   international   and   regional   human   rights   instruments,  as  well  as  related  soft  law  instruments  and  opinions  such  as  the  work  of  the   UN   Special   Rapporteur   on   freedom   of   expression.19   International   corporate   social   responsibility,  consumer  law  and  competition  law  frameworks  also  help  underpin  existing   and   developing   intermediary   liability   regimes   and   we   have   built   on   these   in   our   report   too.   For  example,  the  United  Nations  Guiding  Principles  on  Business  and  Human  Rights  requires   inter   alia   that   “business   enterprises   should   establish   or   participate   in   effective   operational-­‐ level   grievance   mechanisms   for   individuals   and   communities   who   may   be   adversely   impacted”,   and   the   United   Nations   Guidelines   for   Consumer   Protection   aims   to   “assist   countries   in   curbing   abusive   business   practices   by   all   enterprises   at   the   national   and   international  levels  which  adversely  affect  consumers”.

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In   the   longer   term,   these   existing   principles   could   be   refined   into   a   more   specific   global   legal  framework  that  establishes  baseline  limitations  on  intermediary  liability,  through  an   inclusive,   multi-­‐stakeholder   process.   Whilst   such   multi-­‐stakeholder   policy   development   processes   are   in   their   infancy,   the   NETmundial   meeting   of   April   201420   provides   an   early   example  of  what  may  be  possible. Meanwhile,  drawing  on  existing  principles  and  research  and  the  explication  of  the  same  by   noted   scholars   and   activists,21   we   propose   a   set   of   global   baselines   to   guide   the   development  and  implementation  of  intermediary  liability  regimes  and  practice.

19

 La  Rue,  Frank,  “Report  of  the  Special  Rapporteur  on  the  promotion  and  protection  of  the  right  to  freedom  of   opinion  and  expression,”  United  Nations,  Human  Rights  Council,  April  17,  2013,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     20   See  NETmundial  web  site,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       21 See  Association  for  Progressive  Communications,  “UN  encourages  community  responses  to  online  hatred  in   new  report,”  APC  release,  June  26,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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The  most  relevant  international  legal  human  rights  standard  that  underpins  the  principles,   although   it   is   not   the   only   one,   is   the   right   to   freedom   of   expression,   as   enshrined   in   the   Universal   Declaration   of   Human   Rights,   the   International   Covenant   on   Civil   and   Political   Rights,  and  various  regional  instruments. Amongst  the  most  useful  high-­‐level  commentaries  illustrating  the  application  of  this  right  to   online  intermediaries  was  made  in  2011  by  the  UN  Human  Rights  Committee:  

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Any   restrictions   on   the   operation   of   websites,   blogs   or   any   other   internet-­‐based,   electronic   or   other   such   information   dissemination   system,   including   systems   to   support  such  communication,  such  as  internet  service  providers  or  search  engines,  are   only  permissible  to  the  extent  that  they  are  compatible  with  paragraph  3.  Permissible   restrictions   generally   should   be   content-­‐specific;   generic   bans   on   the   operation   of   certain  sites  and  systems  are  not  compatible  with  paragraph  3.  It  is  also  inconsistent   with   paragraph   3   to   prohibit   a   site   or   an   information   dissemination   system   from   publishing   material   solely   on   the   basis   that   it   may   be   critical   of   the   government   or   the   political  social  system  espoused  by  the  government.22

Trade  and  Competition  

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A

Another   context   in   which   intermediary   liability   rules   are   considered   is   that   of   trade   and   competition  law  and  policy.  This  informed  our  analysis  also,  as  broad  variation  amongst  the   legal   regimes   of   the   countries   in   which   online   intermediaries   operate   increases   compliance   costs  for  companies.  It  may  discourage  them  from  offering  their  services  in  some  countries   due  to  the  high  costs  of  localized  compliance.    A  recent  Oxera  Consulting  study  found:

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Legal  clarity  would  be  beneficial  not  only  within,  but  also  across,  countries.  Currently,   intermediaries  need  to  ensure  compliance  at  the  national  level,  and  hence  require  legal   expertise   and   compliance   processes   for   each   country.   A   more   uniform   approach   across   regions   would   allow   companies   to   follow   a   clear   legal   framework,   thereby   lowering   transaction  costs  and  facilitating  the  expansion  of  intermediaries  across  jurisdictions.   This  is  likely  to  benefit  users  by  increasing  choice  and  promoting  competition  between   intermediaries.23 This   was   found   to   lead   to   a   possible   increase   in   start-­‐up   success   rates   for   intermediaries   in   countries   adopting   a   liability   regime   with   clearly-­‐defined   requirements,   as   well   as   increasing  expected  profits.  Conversely,  “Intermediary  start-­‐  ups  are  likely  to  be  held  back  if  

22

UN  Human  Rights  Committee,  “General  comment  no.  34  on  Article  19:  Freedoms  of  opinion  and  expression,”   International  Covenant  on  Civil  and  Political  Rights  (ICCPR),  2011,  paragraph  43,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     23  Oxera,  p.11.  

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the  IIL  [Internet  Intermediary  Liability]  regime  is  not  clear  or  entails  complex  compliance   requirements.”24 Similarly,   the   Internet   Association   has   argued   that   differences   in   intermediary   liability   regimes   can   operate   as   a   barrier   to   cross-­‐border   trade   as   bad   laws   are   bad   for   local   and   foreign  businesses.25  Therefore,  to  ensure  that  citizens  of  a  particular  country  have  access   to   a   robust   range   of   speech   platforms,   each   country   should   work   to   harmonize   the   requirements   that   it   imposes   upon   online   intermediaries   with   the   requirements   of   other   countries,  where  possible.  While  a  certain  degree  of  variation  between  what  is  permitted  in   one   country   as   compared   to   another   is   inevitable,   all   countries   should   agree   on   certain   limitations  to  intermediary  liability.   In   recognition   of   differences   between   regimes,   a   multi-­‐stakeholder   initiative   called   the   Internet   &   Jurisdiction   Project   argues   for   the   development   of   common   principles   of   due   process  capable  of  application  in  multiple  jurisdictions:

FT

The  Internet  is  transnational.  Its  cross-­‐border  nature  challenges  the  international  legal   system   that   is   based   on   a   patchwork   of   separate   national   sovereignties.   No   reliable   framework   exists   to   handle   this   challenge.   The   resulting   legal   competition   has   unintended  consequences  including:  increased  jurisdictional  conflicts,  tensions  between   actors  and  a  risk  of  fragmentation.26    

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A

The   Internet   &   Jurisdiction   Project   has   identified   as   a   challenge   the   lack   of   appropriate   procedures  to  handle  an  increasing  number  of  request  from  courts  and  authorities  to  ISPs   in   other   jurisdictions,   including   attempted   domain   seizures,   content   takedowns   and   related   access  to  user  data.  Their  proposal  attempts  to  address  this  through  the  definition  of  a  draft   architecture   for   how   requests   are   submitted   and   how   they   are   handled.27   For   the   standardization  of  request  submission,  the  proposal  includes  two  parts:  the  development  of   standardized   formats   and   the   building   of   mutualized   databases.   For   the   request   handling   the   proposal   includes   also   two   parts:   rules   to   allow   process   predictability   and   dispute   management. Whilst   the   trade   and   competition   dimension   of   intermediary   liability   is   therefore   acknowledged,   nevertheless   the   development   of   intermediary   liability   regimes   as   a   response   to   pressure   via   international   trade   agreements,   such   as   the   Trans-­‐Pacific   Partnership,  is  seen  as  not  a  legitimate  or  inclusive  process,  and  these  principles  aim  for  a   24

 Oxera,  pp.  2-­‐3. Internet  Association,  “Harmonizing  Intermediary  Immunity  for  Modern  Trade  Policy,”  May  2014,  accessed   March  16,  2015.     26  Internet  &  Jurisdiction  Project,  “Progress  Report  2013/14,”  p.  5,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       27  Id. 25    

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more   holistic   treatment   of   their   subject   matter,   as   well   as   specifically   critiquing   exclusionary  mechanisms  of  intermediary  policy  development  in  principle  VI.

Intermediary  Liability  Practices   Intermediary  Liability  Models  

FT

Intermediary   liability   for   third-­‐party   content   occurs   “where   governments   or   private   litigants  can  hold  technological  intermediaries  such  as  ISPs  and  websites  liable  for  unlawful   or  harmful  content  created  by  users  of  those  services”28—including  for  their  failure  to  block   or   filter   such   content.   Intermediary   liability   in   this   sense   can   arise   from   a   multitude   of   issues   such   as   copyright   infringements,   digital   piracy,   trademark   disputes,   network   management,   spamming   and   phishing,   “cybercrime”,   defamation,   hate   speech,   and   child   pornography,   as   well   as   covering   both   illegal   content   and   offensive   but   legal   content,   and   engaging   areas   of   law   ranging   from   censorship,   to   broadcasting   and   telecommunications   laws  and  regulations,  and  privacy  law.29

A

The   Manila   Principles   also   cover   circumstances   in   which   intermediaries   may   restrict   content   in   anticipation   of   possible   liability   (or   for   other   reasons)   pursuant   to   their   own   terms   of   service;   an   important   inclusion   because   of   the   trend   for   intermediaries   to   be   pushed   to   take   “voluntary   measures”   against   users,   as   explained   further   below.   To   omit   the   mechanism   of   terms   of   service   based   content   restriction   from   consideration   would   therefore  leave  a  grave  gap  in  the  principles.

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The  Manila  Principles  have  been  developed  in  the  context  of  existing  intermediary  liability   regimes,  without  in  any  way  being  constrained  to  remain  compatible  with  these  regimes.  In   this   regard,   there   are   three   general   approaches   to   intermediary   liability   that   have   been   discussed  in  much  of  the  recent  work  in  this  area,  including  the  Centre  for  Democracy  and   Technology's  2012  report,  “Shielding  the  Messengers:  Protecting  Platforms  for  Expression   and  Innovation.”  Approaches  to  intermediary  liability  may  generally  be  classified  into  three   models: 1. Expansive  protections  against  liability   2. Conditional  immunity  from  liability  

28

Center  for  Democracy  and  Technology,  “Intermediary  Liability:  Protecting  Internet  Platforms  for  Expression   and  Innovation,”  April  2010,  p.1,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  . 29  See  Comninos,  Alex,  “The  Liability  of  internet  intermediaries  in  Nigeria,  Kenya,  South  Africa  and  Uganda:  An   uncertain  terrain,”  Association  for  Progressive  Communications,  2012,  p.6,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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3. Primary  liability  for  third-­‐party  content30       Expansive   protections   are   provided   for   intermediaries,   for   example,   in   the   regime   established  under  section  230(c)  of  the  Communications  Decency  Act  (CDA)  in  the  United   States   which   establishes   that   intermediaries   should   not   be   considered   as   publishers   and   exempts  them  from  liability  for  most  types  of  third-­‐party  content  (although  not,  notably,  for   intellectual  property  infringements).  

A

FT

The   conditional   immunity   from   liability   approach,   which   CDT   terms   “conditional   safe   harbor”,  seeks  to  balance  protection  of  intermediaries  from  liability  while  defining  certain   roles   for   them   with   respect   to   unlawful   content.   Under   this   approach   an   intermediary   receives   protection   from   liability   for   user   conduct,   only   if   the   intermediary   meets   certain   conditions   such   as   compliance   with   a   statutory   “notice   and   notice”   or   “notice   and   takedown”   system.   The   Canadian   liability   framework   creates   conditional   safe   harbor   for   intermediaries   by   establishing   a   “notice   and   notice”   system   for   copyright   infringements,   with  effect  from  2015.  Under  the  “notice  and  notice”  system,  the  primary  responsibility  of   the   intermediary   upon   receiving   a   removal   request   is   to   forward   the   notification   to   subscriber  (or  explain  to  the  claimant  why  they  cannot  forward  it).  This  enables  the  dispute   to  be  directly  resolved  between  the  complainant  and  the  content  producer  and  no  content  is   taken   down   by   the   intermediary.   UK   English   Defamation   Law   also   establishes   a   “notice   and   notice”   system,   and   drawing   upon   Canada's   intermediary   liability   framework   and   the   UK   English   Defamation   Law,   Article   19   has   developed   safeguards   targeted   at   the   liability   regime  of  “notice  and  notice”.31

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The  conditional  immunity  approach  also  corresponds  to  the  regime  established  under  the   Digital   Millennium   Copyright   Act   (DMCA),   Title   512,   which   exempts   intermediaries   from   liability   for   copyright   infringements   if   they   comply   with   certain   conditions,   such   as   compliance   with   a   statutory   “notice   and   take-­‐down”   system.   Under   such   a   system,   intermediaries  need  to  respond  to  take-­‐down  requests  and  take  down  copyright  infringing   content   in   order   to   keep   their   protection   from   liability.   In   such   regimes   problems   arise   due   to   ambiguity   over   what   is   unlawful   and   an   incentive   structure   skewed   towards   content   removal.

30

 See  Center  for  Democracy  and  Technology,  “Shielding  the  Messengers:  Protecting  Platforms  for  Expression   and  Innovation,”  2012,  pp.4-­‐15,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       31 For  more  detail  see  Article  19,  “Internet  Intermediaries:  Dilemma  of  Liability  Q  and  A,”  August  2013,  accessed   March  16,  2015.   13

FT

In   Europe   internet   intermediaries32   are   afforded   protection   from   liability   for   all   types   of   content   (including   intellectual   property)   on   an   equal   basis,   under   what   in   practice   amounts   to   a   conditional   immunity   model,   but   which   differentiates   between   different   classes   of   intermediaries.  Under  the  E-­‐Commerce  Directive  (ECD)  Article  14  Internet  intermediaries   are   afforded   protection   from   intermediary   liability   for   being   a   mere   conduit   for   information,   for   caching   information,   or   for   hosting   information.33   Provided   these   activities   are  “of  a  mere  technical,  automatic  and  passive  nature”  and  the  intermediary  “has  neither   knowledge   of   nor   control   over   the   information   which   is   transmitted   or   stored”   they   are   afforded   protection   from   liability.34   For   those   who   operate   as   mere   conduit,   or   of   caching   service   providers   are   protected   from   liability   for   that   content,   as   long   as   they   did   not   modify   transmitted   information,   and   did   not   collaborate   with   recipients   of   its   services   in   order   to   undertake   illegal   activity.   Protection   from   liability   for   hosting   content   is   conditional   on   the   service   provider   having   been   unaware   of   content   on   its   networks,   and   once   becoming   aware   of   unlawful   content   on   their   networks,   acting   expeditiously   to   remove  it.    

32

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The  primary  liability  approach  is  described  in  the  CDT  report  as  “blanket  or  strict  liability   for  intermediaries”,  though  this  is  not  a  comprehensive  description  because  it  also  refers  to   a  situation  where  there  is  an  onerous  and/or  vague  negligence  standard  for  intermediaries.   This   is   the   case   in   China   and   Thailand,   for   example,   where   intermediaries   are   frequently   held  liable  for  third-­‐party  content,  thereby  providing  them  with  a  strong  incentive  to  pre-­‐ emptively   censor   that   content.35   This   can   reflect   a   conscious   policy   on   the   part   of   the   government  or  other  actors  to  control  certain  illegal,  unlawful  and  undesirable  content  on   the   Internet   by   specifically   holding   intermediaries   responsible   for   such   content,   because   they   provide   a   more   convenient   locus   of   control   than   end   users.36   Similarly,   intermediary  

D

 Termed  “information  society  services”.  For  further  explanation  see  University  of  Oslo,  “The  E-­‐Commerce   Directive  Article  14:Liability  exemptions  for  hosting  third  party  content,”  2011,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     33  European  Parliament  and  the  Council  of  the  European  Union,  “European  E-­‐Commerce  Directive  2000/31   (ECD),”  articles  12-­‐15,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     This  does  not  include  liability  for  the  protection  of  individuals  with  regard  to  the  processing  of  personal  data   which  “is  solely  governed  by  Directive  95/46/EC  of  the  European  Parliament  and  of  the  Council  of  24  October   1995  on  the  protection  of  individuals  with  regard  to  the  processing  of  personal  data  and  on  the  free   movement  of  such  data  (2)  and  Directive  97/66/EC  of  the  European  Parliament  and  of  the  Council  of  15   December  1997  concerning  the  processing  of  personal  data  and  the  protection  of  privacy  in  the   telecommunications  sector  (3)” 34  Id.,  paragraph  42. 35 Tao, Qian,  “Legal  framework  of  online  intermediaries'  liability  in  China",  Info  14,  6  (2012):  59-­‐72;  “The   knowledge  standard  for  the  Internet  Intermediary  Liability  in  China,”  International  Journal  on  Law  Information   Technology  20,  1  (2012):  1-­‐18. 36  McKinnon,  Rebecca,  “Are  China’s  demands  for  self-­‐discipline  spreading  to  the  West?”  McClatchy,  January  18,   2010,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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liability   for   third   party   content   can   be   the   default   position   in   the   context   of   laws,   such   as   those   of   Kenya   and   Nigeria,   that   do   not   differentiate   between   an   intermediary   and   an   author  and  publisher  of  original  content.37  In  such  cases,  determining  when  intermediaries   should  be  held  liable  or  not  entails  much  of  the  same  comprehensive  review  of  the  law  as   would  apply  to  the  original  author  of  the  content.

Soft  Pressure   In   addition   to   this   tripartite   classification,   it   is   important   to   note   that   within   each   model   there   is   also   a   grey   zone   within   which   intermediaries   are   “encouraged”   by   regulators   or   third   parties   to   take   “voluntary”   action   to   police   content   on   their   networks.   This   is   apparent,   for   instance,   in   Article   16   of   the   ECD   which   encourages   the   development   of   codes   of  conduct  by  intermediaries  to  deal  with  third-­‐party  content.38  Also  late  in  the  negotiation   of   the   NETmundial   Multi-­‐stakeholder   Statement   in   April   2014,   the   following   language   advocated  for  by  rights-­‐holder  representatives  was  inserted  into  the  final  text:

FT

Intermediary   liability   limitations   should   be   implemented   in   a   way   that   respects   and   promotes  economic  growth,  innovation,  creativity  and  free  flow  of  information.  In  this   regard,  cooperation  among  all  stakeholders  should  be  encouraged  to  address  and  deter   illegal  activity,  consistent  with  fair  process.39

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A

In  the  October  2014  leaked  text  of  the  Trans-­‐Pacific  Partnership,  a  proposal  which  follows   other  free  trade  agreements  in  force  that  also  aim  at  such  cooperation,  we  see  a  similar  text   proposal.     The   proposal   although   requiring   a   legal   obligation   of   intermediaries,   does   not   directly  link  this  with  safe  harbor  protection  (square  bracketed  text  removed):

D

Each   Party   shall   provide   legal   incentives   for   online   service   providers   to   cooperate   with   copyright   owners   or   {help}   /   {take   action}   to   deter   the   unauthorized   storage   and   transmission  of  copyrighted  materials.40 Initiatives   of   this   type   have   motivated   some   jurisdictions   to   implement   graduated   response   schemes   or   “three   strikes   systems”   aiming   to   reduce   copyright   infringement   online,   by   requiring   an   intermediary   (generally   an   ISP,   in   this   case)   to   send   notifications   to   their   customers   warning   them   they   are   alleged   to   have   infringed   copyright   law.   Some   such   schemes  can  encourage  ISPs  to  take  technical  measures  such  as  displaying  an  intrusive  pop-­‐ up   warning   to   the   user   that   an   infringement   notice   has   been   sent,   reducing   the   user’s   37

 Id. See  European  Parliament  and  the  Council  of  the  European  Union,  European  E-­‐Commerce  Directive  2000/31   (ECD),  article  16. 39   See  NETmundial,  “NETmundial  Multistakeholder  Statement,”  April  24,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   40 See  Wikileaks,  “Updated  Secret  Trans-­‐Pacific  Partnership  Agreement  (TPP)  -­‐  IP  Chapter  (second  publication),”   October,  16,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     38

15

bandwidth,  blocking  protocols  or,  in  the  worst  scenario,  temporarily  suspending  the  user’s   account  for  alleged  repeated  infringement.41   Even   CDA   23042,   through   its   so-­‐called   “Good   Samaritan”   provision,   opens   the   door   to   pressure   for   extra-­‐legal   content   takedown,   by   exempting   intermediaries   from   liability   for   any  action  voluntarily  taken  in  good  faith  to  restrict  access  to  or  availability  of  material  that   the   provider   or   user   considers   to   be   obscene,   lewd,   lascivious,   filthy,   excessively   violent,   harassing,   or   otherwise   objectionable,   whether   or   not   such   material   is   constitutionally   protected.   Such  “soft”  obligations  pose  a  further  risk  of  chilling  speech  through  intermediaries  that  is   less   easily   quantified   than   a   hard   obligation   on   intermediaries   to   take   down   content   following   a   well-­‐defined,   legally   sanctioned   process.   Therefore   these   principles   seek   to   address  both  hard  obligations  and  soft  incentives  that  guide  intermediary  behavior.

FT

Approaches  to  Content  Restriction    

R

The   restriction   of   content   that   does   not   involve   independent   human   review   all   but   rules   out   automated   tools   that   flag   and   remove   content   or   restrict   its   accessibility   without   express   user   consent.   This   does   not   prevent   users   of   social   networks   or   ISPs   from   opting-­‐in   to   the   use   of   automated   obscenity,   spam,   and   abuse   filters,   but   an   important   feature   of   these   is   that   they   only   affect   the   user   who   consents   to   them.43   In   practice,   such   systems   can   be   multi-­‐layered—with   the   initial   identification   of   content   being   through   an   automated  process,  and  subsequent  actions  reviewed  by  humans,  which  leads   into   the   second   mechanism.   The   automated   filters   can   be   developed   by   private   companies  or  in  collaboration  with  governments.

D

1.

A

There   is   a   continuum   of   content   restriction   mechanisms   that   have   been   adopted   by   intermediaries   or   governments   and   that   range   from   being   the   least   balanced   and   accountable   in   protecting   users   freedom   of   expression   and   intermediaries   from   heavy   or   disproportionate  liability,  and  those  that  are  more  so.  These  do  not  quite  overlap  with  the   three  models  described  above,  because  intermediaries  can  and  do  employ  mechanisms  that   go   beyond   their   legal   obligations.   The   below   mechanisms   range   from   1   as   the   least   accountable  to  5  as  the  most  accountable:

41

 See  Malcolm,  Jeremy,  “Australia's  Proposed  Copyright  Alert  System  Allows  Rightsholders  to  Spy  on  Users,”   Electronic  Frontier  Foundation,  February  2015,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       42   See  Section  230  of  Title  47  of  the  United  States  Code  (47  USC  §  230). 43  Some  intermediaries  may  be  able  to  claim  the  implied  consent  of  their  users  for  filtering  of  malware,  though   we  do  not  express  a  view  on  that.

16

The   unilateral   removal   of   content   by   the   intermediary   without   legal   compulsion   in   response   to   a   private   third   party   request   received,   without   affording  the  uploader  of  the  content  the  right  to  be  heard  or  access  to  remedy.   Although  an  intermediary  may  be  within  their  rights  to  act  on  a  private  request   if  the  content  is  in  violation  of  their  content  policy,  such  action  taken  without   providing   notice,   the   right   to   be   heard,   or   access   to   remedy   to   the   content   uploader,  raises  accountability  issues  and  impinges  on  free  speech.

3.

Notice  and  takedown  mechanisms  in  which  content  orders  are  not  assessed   by  an  independent  authority,  but  instead  incorporate,  as  the  DMCA  attempts  to   do,  an  effective  appeal  and  counter-­‐notice  mechanism  in  which  intermediaries   remove  content  upon  receiving  a  take  down  request,  but  provide  the  uploader   of   the   content   notice   of   its   removal   and   a   right   of   appeal.   Where   this   breaks   down  is  that  the  cost  and  incentive  structure  is  weighted  towards  removal  of   content   in   the   case   of   doubt   or   dispute,   resulting   in   more   content,   including   legitimate  content,  being  taken  down  and  staying  down.

4.

Notice   and   notice   regimes   in   which   the   intermediary   passes   on   a   removal   request   to   the   uploader   of   information.   Notice   and   notice   regimes   typically   provide   strong   social   incentives   for   those   whose   content   is   reported   to   be   unlawful   to   remove   the   content,   but   do   not   legally   compel   them   to   do   so.   If   legal  compulsion  is  required,  a  court  order  must  then  be  separately  obtained.   Canada  has  followed  this  approach,  though  it  is  currently  limited  to  copyright.

5.

Notice   and   judicial   takedown   regimes   require   a   complaining   party   to   obtain   a  judicial  order  for  the  removal  of  content  before  the  intermediary  will  respond   by   taking   the   content   down,   and   with   the   possibility   of   appeal   or   judicial   review.   This   model,   adopted   in   jurisdictions   like   Chile   in   the   context   of   copyright,   balances   the   rights   of   the   user   and   the   interests   of   the   party   requesting   content   restriction   in   many   cases,   but   has   been   criticized   on   practicality  and  efficiency  grounds.

D

R

A

FT

2.

The   first   three   mechanisms,   which   involve   content   being   restricted   by   intermediaries   unilaterally,   or   by   unadjudicated   allegations   of   illegality   (eg.   notices   from   private   parties)   are   not   supported   by   the   standards   in   the   Manila   Principles,   although   principle   III   does   permit   a   non-­‐judicially   ordered   removal   in   the   most   clear   and   serious   exceptional   circumstances   provided   by   law,   generally   involving   manifest   illegality,   and/or   where   the   harm   to   the   victim   is   otherwise   irreparable—and   then   only   with   necessary   safeguards   against  abuse  as  set  out  later  in  the  Manila  Principles.   As  we  will  see,  it  is  the  latter  two  mechanisms  that  the  Manila  Principles  support    in  most   cases. 17

Manila  Principles  for  Intermediary  Liability   Principle   I:   Intermediaries   should   be   shielded   by   law   from   liability   for   third   party   content   In  order  to  preserve  the  right  to  freedom  of  expression,  while  enabling  an  environment  for   innovation   by   users   and   organizations,   governments   should   provide   legal   protections   exempting   intermediaries   from   liability   for   third   party   content   on   their   networks   or   platforms. Where   safe   harbors   for   the   protection   of   intermediaries   from   third   party   liability   are   provided   in   law,   it   should   be   understood   that   failure   of   an   intermediary   to   abide   by   the   conditions   for   the   safe   harbor   will   result   only   in   loss   of   the   safe   harbor   and   not   in   an   automatic   finding   of   liability.   In   addition,   no   ISP   or   speaker   should   be   liable   or   lose   safe   harbor  protection  for  any  act  which  would  not  attract  liability  if  done  offline.

FT

The   subsections   below   define   some   key   aspects   that   any   legal   regime   addressing   intermediary  liability  should  address:  

A

I.a.  Any  rules  governing  intermediary  liability  must  be  provided  by  laws,  which  must  be  sufficiently   clear  and  accessible  as  to  enable  individuals  to  regulate  their  conduct  and  must  meet  human  rights   standards  

D

R

The   rules   and   obligations   that   governments   impose   on   intermediaries   should   be   constitutionally   valid   and   in   compliance   with   all   applicable   legal   norms   of   due   process.   Intermediaries   should   resist   restricting   content   where   such   criteria   of   constitutionality   and   due  process  have  not  been  followed.  Imposing  liability  on  internet  intermediaries  without   providing  clear  guidance  as  to  the  precise  type  of  content  that  is  not  lawful  and  the  precise   requirements   of   a   legally   sufficient   notice   encourages   intermediaries   to   over-­‐remove   content.  This  principle  also  encompasses  the  principle  of  legality,  a  fundamental  aspect  of   all   international   human   rights   instruments,   which   is   a   basic   guarantee   against   the   state’s   arbitrary  exercise  of  its  powers.  For  this  reason,  any  restriction  on  human  rights,  including   the  right  to  free  expression,  must  be  “provided”  or  “prescribed”  by  law.44  Furthermore,  the   meaning  of  “law”  implies  certain  minimum  qualitative  requirements  of  clarity,  accessibility,   and  predictability  as  well  as  democratic  process. The  OAS    Report  states:

44  

The  meaning  of  legality  has  been  derived  from  the  principle  of  legality,  as  defined  in  the  International   Principles  on  the  Application  of  Human  Rights  to  Communications  Surveillance.  “International  Principles  on   the  Application  of  Human  Rights  to  Communications  Surveillance,”  May  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

18

the   first   condition   of   the   legitimacy   of   any   restriction   of   freedom   of   expression—on   the   Internet   or   in   any   other   area—is   the   need   for   the   restrictions   to   be   established   by   law,   formerly  [sic]  and  in  practice,  and  that  the  laws  in  question  be  clear  and  precise.  45 The   Human   Rights   Committee   has   clarified   the   meaning   of   “law”   for   the   purposes   of   Article   19  ICCPR    stating  that: A  ‘law’,  must  be  formulated  with  sufficient  precision  to  enable  an  individual  to  regulate   his  or  her  conduct  accordingly  and  it  must  be  made  accessible  to  the  public.  A  law  may   not   confer   unfettered   discretion   for   the   restriction   of   freedom   of   expression   on   those   charged   with   its   execution.   Laws   must   provide   sufficient   guidance   to   those   charged   with  their  execution  to  enable  them  to  ascertain  what  sorts  of  expression  are  properly   restricted  and  what  sorts  are  not.46

FT

The  European  Court  of  Human  Rights  has  followed  a  similar  approach  in  its  jurisprudence.   In   particular,   it   has   held   that   the   expression   “prescribed   by   law”   implies   the   following   requirements:  

R

The  UNESCO  report  points  out:

A

Firstly,   the   law   must   be   adequately   accessible:   the   citizen   must   be   able   to   have   an   indication  that  is  adequate  in  the  circumstances  of  the  legal  rules  applicable  to  a  given   case.   Secondly,   a   norm   cannot   be   regarded   as   a   “law”,   unless   it   is   formulated   with   sufficient   precision   to   enable   the   citizen   to   regulate   his   conduct;   he   must   be   able—if   need   be   with   appropriate   advice—to   foresee,   to   a   degree   that   is   reasonable   in   the   circumstances,  the  consequences  which  a  given  action  may  entail.47

D

Policy,   legal,   and   regulatory   goals   affecting   intermediaries   must   be   consistent   with   universal   human   rights   norms   if   states   are   to   protect   online   freedom   of   expression   and   if   companies   are   to   respect   it   to   the   maximum   degree   possible.   Governments   need   to   ensure  that  legal  frameworks  and  policies  are  in  place  to  address  issues  arising  out  of   intermediary  liability  and  absence  of  liability.  Legal  frameworks  and  policies  affecting   freedom   of   expression   and   privacy   should   be   contextually   adapted   without   transgressing   universal   standards,   be   consistent   with   human   rights   norms   including   the   right   to   freedom   of   expression,   and   contain   a   commitment   to   principles   of   due   process   and   fairness.   Legal   and   regulatory   frameworks   should   also   be   precise   and   45

OAS  report,  pp.  26-­‐27. See  UN  Human  Rights  Committee,  “General  comment  no.  34  on  Article  19:  Freedoms  of  opinion  and   expression.” 47  European  Court  of  Human  Rights,  “Sunday  Times  vs.  United  Kingdom,”  April  26,  1979,  paragraph  49,   accessed  March  16,  2015.     46  

19

grounded   in   a   clear   understanding   of   the   technology   they   are   meant   to   address,   removing  legal  uncertainty  that  would  otherwise  provide  opportunity  for  abuse  or  for   intermediaries   to   operate   in   ways   that   restrict   freedom   of   expression   for   fear   of   liability.48 Constitutional  law  in  each  country  determines  the  precise  requirements  that  underpin  the   legality  of  a  law  made  by  its  legislature,  and  administrative  law  determines  the  legality  of   lawmaking   by   the   executive   branch.   Even   when   a   law   is   constitutional,   this   does   not   necessarily   mean   that   an   intermediary   should   comply   with   it.   If   that   law   contravenes   international   human   rights   standards,   and   if   the   intermediary   does   not   operate   from   that   country   or   otherwise   subject   to   its   jurisdiction,   then   the   intermediary   is   both   legally   and   ethically   justified   in   declining   to   enforce   laws   that   would   restrict   the   availability   of   its   content  within  its  borders.   Article  19  noted  in  its  2013    report  on  intermediary  liability:

R

A

FT

Approximately   30   participating   States   have   laws   based   on   the   EU   E-­‐Commerce   Directive.  However,  the  EU  Directive  provisions  rather  than  aligning  state  level  policies,   created   differences   in   interpretation   during   the   national   implementation   process.   These   differences   emerged   once   the   national   courts   applied   the   provisions.   These   procedures   have   also   been   criticized   for   being   unfair.   Rather   than   obtaining   a   court   order   requiring   the   host   to   remove   unlawful   material   (which,   in   principle   at   least,   would   involve   an   independent   judicial   determination   that   the   material   is   indeed   unlawful),   hosts   are   required   to   act   merely   on   the   say-­‐so   of   a   private   party   or   public   body.  This  is  problematic  because  hosts  tend  to  err  on  the  side  of  caution  and  therefore   take  down  material  that  may  be  perfectly  legitimate  and  lawful.49

D

I.b.  Intermediaries  may  be  compelled  to  restrict  content  only  by  a  judicial  order,  and  only  to  the  extent   to  which  the  content  restricted  is  offered  within  the  jurisdiction  where  the  order  is  issued  

Laws  should  not  require  the  intermediary  to  take  action  on  a  content  restriction  order  or   request   without   the   consent   of   the   person   who   put   the   content   in   question   online,   unless   the  party  requesting  the  takedown  is  a  judicial  authority. Due  to  the  propensity  of  some  courts  to  exercise  long-­‐arm  jurisdiction  over  intermediaries   that   may   operate   outside   of   their   physical   jurisdiction,   this   provision   of   the   Manila   Principles   does   not   suggest   that   every   such   claim   of   jurisdiction   need   be   taken   at   face  

48

UNESCO  report,  p.  186. See  Article  19,  “Internet  Intermediaries:  Dilemma  of  Liability,”  2013,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   49

20

value.50  Instead,  we  suggest  that  only  if  the  intermediary  offers  the  content  from  the  same   physical  jurisdiction  as  the  court  that  makes  the  order,  are  they  required  to  comply. A  related  issue  concerns  how  an  intermediary  should  respond  to  a  court  order  that  is  not   directed   at   the   intermediary   directly,   but   rather   a   third   party   such   as   an   individual   user   who  posted  an  allegedly  defamatory  remark  on  the  intermediary’s  platform.  As  a  matter  of   principle,   these   should   not   generally   be   actioned   by   an   intermediary   because   a   legal   obligation   to   remove   content   is   not   created   by   court   orders   directed   to   third   parties.   In   practice   however,   some   intermediaries   also   restrict   content   in   response   to   such   third   party   orders,  which  is  usually  explicable  on  the  basis  that  a  terms  of  service  infringement  has  also   occurred.

A

FT

The   rationale   is   that   findings   of   liability   of   third   parties   may   establish   knowledge   when   communicated   to   the   intermediary,   and   in   some   intermediary   liability   regimes,   actual   knowledge  of  illegality  of  content  can  expose  the  intermediary  to  its  own  primary  liability   in  separate  proceedings.51  In  some  regimes,  intermediaries  can  even  be  held  liable  despite   the   lack   of   notice   about   the   illegality   of   content   (because   it   is   a   “red   flag”   case),   or   knowledge   can   be   imputed   by   other   means   than   notice   (such   as   for   example,   publication   of   decisions   in   major   newspapers   or   other   types   of   constructive   awareness).   Therefore,   to   avoid  likely  direct  liability  in  the  future,  the  intermediary  may  take  action  despite  not  being   a  direct  party  to  the  original  court  proceedings.

D

R

It  is  important  to  note  that  the  Manila  Principles  do  not  sanction  this  practice  because  we   recommend  against  the  imposition  of  primary  liability  on  intermediaries;  however,  we  do   recognize  it  as  a  reality  in  some  jurisdictions.  Therefore  we  suggest  that  third  party  court   orders  that  otherwise  comply  with  the  criteria  set  out  in  II.b  below  should  only  be  accepted   by  an  intermediary  in  lieu  of  a  direct  order  against  the  intermediary  itself  where  there  has   been   a   terms   of   service   infringement,   and   if   the   intermediary   is   liable   to   attract   direct   liability  if  it  fails  to  act.  Note,  again,  that  this  circumstance  will  never  arise  in  a  jurisdiction   whose  intermediary  liability  regime  complies  with  the  Manila  Principles. Clearly,   judicial   review   of   content   restriction   requests   does   impose   a   significant   burden   upon   the   complainant.   This   burden   cannot   be   dismissed   even   from   a   human   rights   standpoint.  If  each  content  restriction  request  was  required  to  be  reviewed  individually  by   a  judge,  this  would  have  one  of  two  outcomes:

50

 See  IV.c  below.  For  example,  a  German  domain  registrar  was  held  liable  for  a  torrent  site's  copyright  infringement  because   it  was  “obvious”  that  the  site  was  used  for  infringements:  see  Essers,  Loek,  “German  court  finds  domain   registrar  liable  for  torrent  site's  copyright  infringement,”  PC  World,  February  7,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   . 51

21

1.

Drastically   reducing   the   number   of   complaints   that   could   be   reviewed,   thereby   implicitly  leaving  a  large  number  of  potentially  objectionable  materials  online.  

2.

Overburdening   the   intermediary,   and/or   the   judicial   process   set   in   place   to   deal  with  such  requests,  to  the  extent  that  either  the  intermediary  withdraws   its  services,  or  that  judicial  resources  are  over-­‐allocated  to  content  restriction   requests.    

Either  of  these  outcomes  could  be  suboptimal  from  a  human  rights  standpoint.  If  no  action   at   all   were   taken   on   the   majority   of   content   complaints,   the   rights   and   interests   of   complainants   could   suffer.   Similarly,   if   intermediaries,   under   the   burden   of   too   many   requests,   limited   or   withdrew   their   services,   users   would   clearly   suffer.     And   if   courts   were   overburdened,   the   result   could   be   to   limit   the   resources   available   to   deal   with   other   civil   and  criminal  justice  issues.

FT

Thus   as   in   many   other   areas,   there   is   the   need   to   find   a   balance,   so   that   illegality   can   be   reduced,   but   with   safeguards   to   avoid   causing   or   encouraging   private   censorship.52   As   expressed  in  the  Rapporteurs’  Joint  Declaration:

A

On   evaluating   the   proportionality   of   a   restriction   to   freedom   of   expression   on   the   Internet,   one   must   weigh   the   impact   that   the   restriction   could   have   on   the   Internet's   capacity  to  guarantee  and  promote  freedom  of  expression  against  the  benefits  that  the   restriction  would  have  in  protecting  other  interests.53 The  answer  to  this  dilemma  that  we  propose  is  threefold: The   cost   burden   on   the   intermediary   and/or   on   the   justice   system   can   be   shifted  to  the  party  requesting  content  restriction.    

2.

Part   of   the   burden   can   be   shifted,   in   part,   to   the   user   of   the   intermediary’s   services,  through  a  notice  and  notice  system.  

D

3.

R

1.

The  burden  of  a  full  judicial  hearing  can  be  reduced  by  instituting  an  expedited   judicial  process,  subject  to  due  legal  safeguards.  

Point   1   above   is   expressed   in   principle   III.f,   point   2   in   II.c,   and   point   3,   since   it   is   not   expressly  addressed  in  the  principles,  will  be  dealt  with  here.

52

 La  Rue,  Frank,  “Report  of  the  Special  Rapporteur  on  the  promotion  and  protection  of  the  right  to  freedom  of   opinion  and  expression,”  United  Nations,  Human  Rights  Council,  May  16,  2011,  Paragraphs  42,  43  and  75,   accessed  March  16,  2015.   53  Joint  Declaration,  point  1  b).

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Chile   is   an   example   of   a   country   with   an   expedited   judicial   notice   and   takedown   regime   for   copyright   works.54   In   response   to   its   Free   Trade   Agreement   with   the   United   States,   the   system  introduced  in  2010  is  broadly  similar  to  the  DMCA,  with  the  critical  difference  that   intermediaries   are   not   required   to   take   material   down   in   order   to   benefit   from   a   liability   safe  harbor,  until  such  time  as  a  court  order  for  removal  of  the  material  is  made,  under  a   special  expedited  legal  process.  Responsibility  for  evaluating  the  copyright  claims  made  is   therefore  shifted  from  intermediaries  onto  the  courts,  which  is  a  major  difference.  

FT

Although  this  requirement  does  impose  a  burden  on  the  rights  holder,  this  serves  a  purpose   by  dis-­‐incentivizing  the  issue  of  automated  or  otherwise  unjustified  notices  that  are  more   likely  to  restrict  or  chill  freedom  of  expression.    In  cases  where  there  is  no  serious  dispute   about   the   legality   of   the   content,   it   is   unlikely   that   the   lawsuit   would   be   defended.   In   any   case,   the   Chilean   legislation   authorizes   the   court   to   issue   a   preliminary   or   interim   injunction  on  an  ex  parte  basis,  on  condition  of  payment  of  a  bond  where  serious  grounds   exist.   I.c.  In  the  absence  of  a  judicial  order,  intermediaries  must  not  be  required  to  substantive  evaluate   substantively  the  legality  of  third-­‐party  content  nor  be  made  liable  for  content  that  is  unlawful  

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A

This   is   closely   related   to   the   previous   point,   but   specifies   that   not   only   must   an   intermediary  not  be  compelled  to  restrict  third-­‐party  content  without  a  judicial  order,  but   must  also  not  be  made  liable  for  that  content  or  be  expected  to  evaluate  its  legality.  Where   safe  harbors  for  the  protection  of  intermediaries  from  third  party  liability  are  provided  in   law,  it  should  be  understood  that  failure  of  an  intermediary  to  abide  by  the  conditions  for   the  safe  harbor  will  result  only  in  loss  of  the  safe  harbor  and  not  in  an  automatic  finding  of   liability. As  noted  in  the  2011  Joint  Declaration  on  Freedom  of  Expression  and  the  Internet:

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No   one   who   simply   provides   technical   Internet   services   such   as   providing   access,   or   searching   for,   or   transmission   or   caching   of   information,   should   be   liable   for   content   generated  by  others,  which  is  disseminated  using  those  services,  as  long  as  they  do  not   specifically   intervene   in   that   content   or   refuse   to   obey   a   court   order   to   remove   that   content,  where  they  have  the  capacity  to  do  so  (“mere  conduit  principle”).  55 54

Center  for  Democracy  and  Technology,  “Chile’s  Notice-­‐and-­‐Takedown  System  for  Copyright  Protection:  An   Alternative  Approach,”  August  2012,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   55 The  United  Nations  (UN)  Special  Rapporteur  on  Freedom  of  Opinion  and  Expression,  the  Organization  for   Security  and  Co-­‐operation  in  Europe  (OSCE)  Representative  on  Freedom  of  the  Media,  the  Organization  of   American  States  (OAS)  Special  Rapporteur  on  Freedom  of  Expression  and  the  African  Commission  on  Human   and  Peoples’  Rights  (ACHPR)  Special  Rapporteur  on  Freedom  of  Expression  and  Access  to  Information,  Article   19,  Global  Campaign  for  Free  Expression,  and  the  Centre  for  Law  and  Democracy,  “Joint  Declaration  on   Freedom  of  Expression  and  the  Internet,”  June  1,  2011,  p.  2,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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Mechanisms   for   content   removal   that   involve   intermediaries   making   determinations   on   requests  received,  without  any  oversight  or  accountability,  or  those  which  only  respond  to   the   interests   of   the   party   requesting   removal,   are   unlikely   to   balance   public   and   private   interests.   A   better   balance   can   be   obtained   through   a   mechanism   where   power   is   distributed   between   the   parties   involved,   and   where   an   impartial,   independent,   and   accountable  oversight  mechanism  exists. On  this  point  the  2011  Joint  Declaration  states  that: intermediaries   should   not   be   required   to   monitor   user-­‐generated   content   and   should   not  be  subject  to  extrajudicial  content  takedown  rules  which  fail  to  provide  sufficient   protection   for   freedom   of   expression   (which   is   the   case   with   many   of   the   ‘notice   and   takedown’  rules  currently  being  applied).56 The  OAS  report  states  on  this  topic:

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save   for   in   extraordinarily   exceptional   cases,   this   type   of   mechanism   puts   private   intermediaries   in   the   position   of   having   to   make   decisions   about   the   lawfulness   or   unlawfulness  of  the  content,  and  for  the  reasons  explained  above,  create  incentives  for   private   censorship.   Indeed,   extrajudicial   notice   and   takedown   mechanisms   have   frequently   been   cause   for   the   removal   of   legitimate   content,   including   specially   protected  content.  …  Specifically,  the  requirement  that  intermediaries  remove  content,   as  a  condition  of  exemption  from  liability  for  an  unlawful  expression,  could  be  imposed   only   when   ordered   by   a   court   or   similar   authority   that   operates   with   sufficient   safeguards   for   independence,   autonomy,   and   impartiality,   and   that   has   the   capacity   to   evaluate  the  rights  at  stake  and  offer  the  necessary  assurances  to  the  user.  57

D

As  noted  in  the  OAS  report,  although  we  recommend  that  any  restriction  of  content  should   be   authorized   by   an   impartial   judiciary   as   the   best   qualified   authority   to   determine   validity   or  harm  of  information,  we  also  recognize,  the  need  to  balance  this  ideal  against  the  need   for   expedited   action   in   exceptional   circumstances,   and   also   that   other   legitimate   interests   that   may   be   impacted   by   the   administrative   and   financial   burden   that   large   quantities   of   content  restriction  requests  may  create.

 (Hereinafter  “Joint  Declaration  on  Freedom  of  Expression  and  the   Internet). 56  Id. 57 OAS  report,  pp.47-­‐48.

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I.d.  Intermediaries  must  never  be  held  liable  for  failing  to  restrict  lawful  content,  and  must  never  be   made  strictly  liable  for  hosting  third-­‐party  content.  

Governments  and  courts  should  not  impose  liability  on  intermediaries  for  failing  to  act  on  a   request  for  the  restriction  of  content  that  is  lawful.  This  principle  is  particularly  important   in  light  of  the  emerging  issue  of  the  right  to  be  de-­‐indexed  by  search  engines,  an  application   of  the  European  Data  Protection  Directive  commonly  known  as  the  right  to  be  forgotten.

FT

In  May  2013,  the  European  Court  of  Justice  (CJEU)  in  the  case  Google  Spain  SL  and  Google   Inc   V.   AEPD   (C-­‐131/12)58,   ruled   that   individuals   have   the   right   to   request   search   engines   to   remove   links   to   websites   that   are   displayed   when   queried   for   using   the   name   of   an   individual.   Importantly,   the   judgment   further   clarified   that   search   engines   do   constitute   a   “data   controller”   as   defined   in   the   European   Union   Data   Protection   Directive.   Though   the   judgment   provided   individuals   with   the   ability   to   request   removal,   it   also   defined   safeguards  that  must  be  adhered  to  including  that  the  removal  of  content  must  comply  with   requirements  under  the  Directive  i.e  the  right  to  erasure  and  the  right  to  object,59  and  that  if   an  individual’s  request  is  not  granted  by  the  search  engine  -­‐  they  have  the  right  to  take  the   complaint  to  the  competent  authority.60  

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Although  the  CJEU  ruling  failed  to  take  freedom  of  expression  properly  into  account,  it  did   recognize  the  potential  interference  that  the  removal  of  links  from  the  list  of  results  could   have  on  the  legitimate  interest  of  Internet  users  “potentially  interested  in  having  access  to   that   information”.   The   ruling   recommended   that   a   fair   balance   should   be   sought   between   that   interest   and   the   data   subject's   Fundamental   rights   under   Articles   7   and   8   of   the   Charter,   recognizing   that   balance   may   depend   on   consideration   of   the   nature   of   the   information   in   question   and   its   sensitivity   for   the   data   subject’s   private   life   and   on   the   interest  of  the  public  in  having  that  information.  

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In   the   context   of   intermediary   liability,   this   judgment   has   a   number   of   implications   and   highlights  an  intersection  between  intermediary  liability  and  data  protection.  The  decision   provides  European  citizens  the  right  to  request  that  links  to  "inadequate,  irrelevant  or  no   longer   relevant"   information   be   removed   from   search   results,   however,   the   information   58

 See  Court  of  Justice  of  the  European  Union,  “Google  Spain  SL,  Google  Inc.  v  Agencia  Española  de  Protección  de   Datos  (AEPD),  Mario  Costeja  González,”  May  13,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   59 See  Ausloos,  Jef,  “European  Court  Rules  against  Google,  in  Favour  of  Right  to  be  Forgotten,”  LSE  Media  Policy   Project  Blog,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   60  See  Court  of  Justice  of  the  European  Union,  “An  internet  search  engine  operator  is  responsible  for  the   processing  that  it  carries  out  of  personal  data  which  appear  on  web  pages  published  by  third  parties,”  Press   Release  70/14,  May  13,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.    

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does  not  disappear  from  the  internet  altogether.  The  ruling  establishes  a  regime  similar  to   notice   and   takedown   and   while   pages   that   are   de-­‐linked   will   still   be   available   in   their   original   forms   online,   search   engines   are   put   in   the   position   of   having   to   review   and   take   action  (by  either  removing  or  maintaining  information)  on  private  removal  requests.  As  a   response   to   the   judgment,   Google   has   put   in   place   a   request   mechanism   for   its   European   user  base.61    

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A   number   of   concerns62   have   also   been   raised   on   the   impact   of   the   judgment   on   free   expression   and   the   right   to   access.   Will   such   a   right   enable   individuals   to   remove   speech   pertaining  to  them  that  they  disagree  with?  Or,  as  the  judgment  is  limited  to  search  engines   and  search  queries,  is  the  obligation  limited  to  search  engines  not  directing  to  the  original   site   of   the   information?       Further,   will   such   a   right   create   an   access   asymmetry—as   information   is   never   deleted   from   the   internet   and   this   increases   the   gap   between   those   who   know   where   to   find   information   and   those   who   need   a   search   engine   to   do   so.   Even   as   there  are  talks  to  extend  the  ruling  outside  the  European  Union63  the  ruling  is  inconsistent   with   systems   such   as   the   Inter-­‐American   Commission   on   Human   Rights.64   The   implementation   of   the   ruling   so   far   has   also   raised   issues   that   remain   unresolved   such   as   information  inequality,65  private  censorship,  the  impact  on  public  discourse  about  political   issues,   that   it   may   be   used   by   people   in   positions   of   power   to   manipulate   press   coverage   and  that  “outdated”  information  about  an  individual,  removed  in  part  because  they  are  not   a   public   figure   may   in   due   course,   become   very   relevant   if   that   individual   immediately   goes   on  to  seek  public  office66.  These  concerns  are  magnified  in  contexts  where  the  right  of  the   public  to  have  information  about  the  present  and  the  past  is  threatened.  

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61

R

A  key  aspect  of  this  ruling  is  that  it  doesn't  relate  to  libelous  or  defamatory  information.  It   censors   lawful   content   that   contains   personal   information   because   it   may   yet   cause   detriment   to   individuals   when   processed   by   search   engines   because   they   can   combine    See  Lomas,  Natasha,  “Google  Offers  Webform  To  Comply  With  Europe’s  ‘Right  To  Be  Forgotten’  Ruling,”   TechCrunch,  May  30,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   62  See  Mansoori,  Sara  and  Eloise  Le  Santo,  “Over  half  a  million  Google  URLs  removal  requests  to  date;  the  ‘Right   to  be  Forgotten’  in  practice,”  International  Forum  for  Responsible  Media,  November  14,  2014,  accessed  March   16,  2015.   63 See  Vijayan,  Jaikumar,  “EU  May  Ask  Google  to  Extend  'Right  to  Be  Forgotten'  Beyond  Europe,”  November  26,   2014  accessed  March  16,  2015.   64 See  Inter-­‐American  Commission  on  Human  Rights,  “Principles  in  the  Declaration  of  Principles  of  Freedom  of   Expression,”  OAS,  2000,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   65 See  Bertoni,  Eduardo,  “The  Right  to  Be  Forgotten:  An  Insult  to  Latin  American  History,”  Huffington  Post   Technology  Blog,  November  24,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   66  Id.

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lawful   information   to   generate   completely   new   insight   and   provide   access   to   outdated   lawful   information   that   would   simply   disappear   or   not   be   accessible   easily   otherwise.67   Further,  under  the  ruling,  European  citizens  may  seek  removal  of  links  from  search  results   however,   it   does   not   lead   to   the   removal   of   the   content   itself,   which   in   many   instances   may   be  both  legal  and  accurate.  Targeting  intermediaries  such  as  search  engines  does  not  fully   address  concerns  about  third  party  content.68 I.e.   Intermediaries   may   restrict   lawful   content   hosted   by   them   that   contravenes   their   own   terms   of   service,   provided   that   they   comply   with   principles   III   and   V   below,   and   that   when   appropriate,   alternative  options  for  communicating  that  lawful  content  are  available.  

Governments  should  ensure  that  intermediaries  maintain  the  ability  to  adapt  their  terms  of   service   to   what   they   feel   is   appropriate   and   needed   for   the   services   offered.   In   turn,   intermediaries   should   ensure   that   their   terms   of   service   are   clear   and   transparent   and   provide  users  avenues  for  remedy.  

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The  Internet  has  space  for  a  wide  range  of  platforms  and  applications  directed  to  different   communities,  with  different  needs  and  desires.  A  social  networking  site  directed  at  children,   for   example,   may   reasonably   want   to   have   policies   that   are   much   more   restrictive   than   a   political  discussion  board.  The  webmaster  of  a  music  review  website  may  wish  to  restrict   comments  to  those  about  music,  and  restrict  those  about  any  other  topic.

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Therefore,  legal  requirements  that  compel  intermediaries  to  take  down  content  should  be   seen   as   a   “floor,”   but   not   a   “ceiling”   on   the   range   and   quantity   of   content   that   those   intermediaries   may   remove.   Within   the   scope   of   the   law   and   observing   human   rights   standards,   intermediaries   retain   control   over   their   own   policies   as   long   as   they   are   transparent  about  what  those  policies  are,  what  type  of  content  the  intermediary  removes,   and  why  they  removed  certain  pieces  of  content.  

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This  distinguishes  the  case  of  a  private  intermediary  with  a  public  authority,  which  can  only   limit   public   freedom   of   expression   towards   achieving   urgent   objectives   such   as   national   security  or  protecting  the  rights  of  others.69 Having  said  that,  it  also  remains  that  intermediaries  are  responsible  for  creating  important   public   fora   for   deliberation   and   discussion,   including   on   political   and   social   issues.   Some,   such  as  Facebook,  are  so  ubiquitous  that  the  policies  that  they  adopt  can  have  a  significant   67

See  Ruiz,  Javier  “Landmark  ruling  by  European  Court  on  Google  and  the  ‘Right  to  be  Forgotten’",  Open  Rights   Group,  May  15,  2015,  accessed  March  16,  2015. 68  See  Geist,  Michael,  “Right  to  be  forgotten  ruling  lacks  balance:  Geist,”  TheStar.com,  Tech  News,  May  16,  2014,   accessed  March  16,  2015.   69 OAS  report,  p.  27.

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effect  on  the  range  of  permissible  interaction  within  entire  online  communities.  This  raises   several  obligations  that  intermediaries  should  observe.   Intermediaries   should   observe   due   process   and   the   application   of   their   policies   must   not   give  rise  to  human  rights  infringements.  As  the  OAS  report  puts  it,  “Companies  must  seek  to   ensure   that   any   restriction   derived   from   the   application   of   the   terms   of   service   does   not   unlawfully  or  disproportionately  restrict  the  right  to  freedom  of  expression.”  70 Additional   requirements   on   intermediaries   are   explained   in   more   depth   in   following   principles.  These  are  that  their  policies  must  be  clear  and  procedurally  fair  (Principle  III),   that  content  restriction  practices  should  be  transparent  and  accountable  (Principle  V)  and   that   intermediaries   may   also   have   a   responsibility   to   allow   for   consultation   on   their   development  of  content  policies  (Principle  VI). I.f.  Intermediaries  must  not  disclose  personally  identifiable  user  information  as  part  of  an  intermediary   liability  regime  without  a  judicial  order.    

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A

FT

Intermediary  liability,  the  freedom  of  expression,  and  privacy  are  issues  that  intersect  in  a   number   of   ways.   When   governments   impose   restrictions   on   an   individual's   ability   to   express  themselves  anonymously,  the  intermediary  must  implement  such  a  policy.  This  can   be   seen   in   South   Korea's   real   ID   policy   that   was   implemented   from   2007   -­‐   2012.71   One   reason   that   governments   are   quick   to   place   liability   on   intermediaries   is   a   result   of   the   access   that   intermediaries   have.   Not   only   do   intermediaries   have   access   to   content   on   their   platforms  and  networks,  but  they  also  have  access  to  user  data  including  IP  address,  user   names,  and  log  history.  Thus,  removal  requests  by  law  enforcement  are  often  coupled  with   user   data   requests.   Similarly,   liability   regimes   can   include   requirements   that   the   intermediary   monitor   and   report   on   a   proactive   basis   specified   activities   or   types   of   content.   Such   requirements   infringe   on   the   rights   to   freedom   of   expression   and   the   privacy   of  users.   Although  the  Manila  Principles  do  not  seek  to  exhaustively  address  privacy  issues,  they  do   provide  that  governments  should  not  legally  require  intermediaries  to  disclose  personally   identifiable   information   as   part   of   an   intermediary   liability   regime   without   a   judicial   order.     To   this   extent,   Governments   should   not   hold   an   intermediary   liable   for   failing   to   disclose   personal   data   of   users   without   such   an   order.   Given   the   impact   of   revealing   personally  

70

 OAS  report,  p.  51.  Caragliano,  David  A.,  “Real  Names  and  Responsible  Speech:  The  cases  of  South  Korea,  China  and  Facebook,”   The  Right  to  Information  &  Transparency  in  the  Digital  Age,  Stanford  University,  March  11-­‐12,  2013,  accessed   March  16,  2015.   71

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identifiable  information  on  the  privacy  and  freedom  of  users  and  the  potential  for  misuse,72   policies   determining   disclosure   requirements   of   intermediaries   must   ensure   safeguards   for   protection  of  users.         Such   a   standard   is   critical   in   protecting   the   privacy   of   users,   a   right   affirmed   under   the   resolution73   adopted   at   the   United   Nations   General   Assembly   that   calls   upon   States   to   review  procedures,  practices  and  legislation  around  communication  surveillance  including   the  collection  of  personal  data. This  does  not  detract  from  the  fact  that  in  some  cases,  the  disclosure  of  user  information  by   intermediaries   will   be   necessary   to   uphold   the   rights   of   victims.74   But   such   cases   should   be   judicially  assessed. I.g.    Intermediaries  should  not  monitor  content  proactively  as  part  of  an  intermediary  liability  regime.  

FT

Governments  should  refrain  from  incorporating  into  liability  regimes  requirements  that  go   beyond   forwarding   any   notice   received   on   a   retroactive   basis.   Particularly   governments   should  refrain  from  requiring  intermediaries  to  proactively  monitor  and  report  content  as   such  requirements  negatively  impact  the  right  to  free  speech  and  the  right  to  privacy.75   The  Joint  Declaration  states:

R

A

At   a   minimum,   intermediaries   should   not   be   required   to   monitor   user-­‐generated   content  and  should  not  be  subject  to  extrajudicial  content  takedown  rules  which  fail  to   provide   sufficient   protection   for   freedom   of   expression   (which   is   the   case   with   many   of   the  ‘notice  and  takedown’  rules  currently  being  applied).  76

D

Principle   II:   Order   and   requests   for   the   restriction   of   content   should   be   clear   and   unambiguous     II.a.    At  a  minimum,  content  restriction  requests  from  third  party  complainants  must  provide:  

i. ii.

The  legal  basis  for  the  assertion  that  the  content  is  unlawful.   The  Internet  address  and  description  of  the  allegedly  unlawful  content.  

72

 See  Noble,  Graham,  “YouTube  Copyright  Hoax  Used  By  Terrorists  to  Gain  Personal  Information,”  Liberty   Voice,  November  6,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   73 See  General  Assembly,  United  Nations,  “The  right  to  privacy  in  the  digital  age,”  Resolution  adopted  on   December  18,  2013,  accessed  March  16,  2015.     74  European  Court  of  Human  Rights,  “K.U.  v.  Finland,”  December  2,  2008,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   75  See  European  Information  Society  Institute  (EISi),  “Third  Party  Intervention  Submission  In  re  Delfi  AS  v.   Estonia,  App.  no.  64569/09,”  June  15,  2014,  p.  17,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       76  Joint  Declaration  on  Freedom  of  Expression  and  the  Internet,  p.2.

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iii. iv. v.

A  certification  of  good  faith  and  consideration  of  limitations,  exceptions,  and   defenses  available  to  the  user  content  provider.   Contact  details  of  the  issuing  party  or  their  agent.   Evidence  sufficient  to  document  their  legal  standing  to  issue  the  request.  

Private  parties  issuing  notices  requesting  the  restriction  of  content  should  ensure  that  such   notices   are   adequate   and   clear—providing   the   intermediary   the   ability   to   respond   according   to   law,   and   removing   the   intermediary   from   the   position   of   making   determinations  as  to  the  lawful  or  unlawful  nature  of  the  content  or  the  action  that  must  be   taken  to  be  granted  exemption  from  liability. Notices  should  be  required  to  include  a  detailed  description  of  the  specific  content  alleged   to   be   illegal   and   to   make   specific   reference   to   the   law   allegedly   being   violated,   and   the   country  where  that  law  applies.

A

FT

Notices  should  be  required  to  specify  the  exact  location  of  the  material—such  as  a  specific   URL—in  order  to  be  valid.  This  is  perhaps  the  most  important  requirement,  in  that  it  allows   hosts  to  take  targeted  action  against  identified  illegal  material  without  having  to  engage  in   burdensome  search  or  monitoring.  Notices  that  demand  the  removal  of  particular  content   wherever   it   appears   on   a   site   without   specifying   any   location(s)   are   not   sufficiently   precise   to   enable   targeted   action.   In   the   case   of   copyright,   the   notice   should   identify   the   specific   work  or  works  claimed  to  be  infringed.  An  intermediary  cannot  be  imputed  with  knowledge   if  information  is  missing,  such  as  a  valid  URL.

D

R

A  sender  of  a  notice  should  be  required  to  attest  under  legal  penalty  to  a  good-­‐faith  belief   that  the  content  being  complained  of  is  in  fact  illegal;  that  the  information  contained  in  the   notice   is   accurate;   and,   if   applicable,   that   the   sender   either   is   the   harmed   party   or   is   authorized  to  act  on  behalf  of  the  harmed  party.  Senders  should  also  be  required  to  certify   that   they   have   considered   in   good   faith   whether   any   limitations,   exceptions,   or   defenses   apply  to  the  material  in  question.  This  is  particularly  relevant  for  copyright  and  other  areas   of  law  in  which  exceptions  are  specifically  described  in  law.   This   kind   of   formal   certification   requirement   signals   to   notice-­‐senders   that   they   should   view   misrepresentation   or   inaccuracies   on   notices   as   akin   to   making   false   or   inaccurate   statements   to   a   court   or   administrative   body.   This   helps   to   limit   bad   faith   restriction   requests,  and  can  provide  the  basis  for  sanctions  against  those  who  send  false  notices  (see   Principle  III.g).   Notices   should   also   be   required   to   contain   contact   information   for   the   sender.   This   facilitates   assessment   of   notices’   validity,   feedback   to   senders   regarding   invalid   notices,   sanctions  for  abusive  notices,  and  communication  or  legal  action  between  the  sending  party   and   the   poster   of   the   material   in   question.   We   do   allow   that   contact   details   may   be   the   30

details   of   an   agent;   for   example,   to   address   cases   where   harassment   of   a   legitimate   complainant  may  occur  if  their  direct  contact  details  are  given. Finally   the   requirement   to   document   the   complainant’s   standing   to   issue   the   request   also   helps  to  reduce  the  incidence  of  bogus  notices.  Notices  should  be  issued  only  by  or  on  behalf   of   the   party   harmed   by   the   content.   For   copyright,   this   would   be   the   rights-­‐holder   or   an   agent  acting  on  the  rights-­‐holderʼs  behalf.   These   requirements   expand   upon   those   that   CDT   has   recommended   for   clear   notices   in   a   notice   and   action   system,   in   response   a   European   Commission   public   comment   period   on   a   revised  notice  and  action  regime.77   II.b.  At  a  minimum,  government  orders  for  the  restriction  of  content  must  provide:

A  legally  authoritative  determination  that  the  content  is  unlawful.     The  Internet  address  and  description  of  the  unlawful  content.     Evidence  sufficient  to  document  the  legal  basis  of  the  order.   Where  applicable,  the  time  period  for  which  content  should  be  restricted.  

FT

a. b. c. d.

A

Note  that  although  referred  to  as  a  “government  order”,  this  would  normally  be  an  order  of   a  court  (except  in  extraordinary  circumstances  where  a  pre-­‐judicial  order  is  made).  The   requirements  that  apply  to  such  orders  are  similar  to  those  that  apply  to  private  parties  as   enumerated  above,  the  main  difference  being  that  there  must  be  a  legally  effective  order  or   determination  that  triggers  the  intermediary’s  obligation  to  respond.

D

R

Evidence  of  the  legal  basis  of  the  order  will  include  the  law  allegedly  being  violated,  and  the   legal  basis  for  the  authority  of  the  court  or  agency  issuing  that  order  to  enforce  that  law.  As   intermediaries   should   not   have   to   assume   that   the   order   is   to   remain   in   effect   for   an   unlimited   duration,   the   order   should   explicitly   specify   this.   For   example,   it   may   be   an   interlocutory  order  that  will  remain  in  place  only  until  a  final  determination  is  made  at  trial. II.c.   Intermediaries   who   host   content   may   be   required   by   law   to   forward   compliant   requests   for   content   restriction   received   from   complainants,   and   content   restriction   orders   received   by   governments,  to  the  user  content  provider.  

This   paragraph   permits   the   law   to   institute   a   “notice   and   notice”   regime,   requiring   intermediaries   to   pass   on   content   restriction   requests   to   the   uploader   of   the   information   in   question.  Such  a  mechanism  ensures  that  the  intermediary  is  not  placed  in  a  quasi  judicial   position—making   determinations   regarding   the   legality   or   illegality   of   content.     The   Manila  

77

Id.

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Principles   do   not   prevent   intermediaries   from   passing   on   notices   voluntarily,   even   in   the   absence  of  a  legal  mandate. Note  that  this  paragraph  only  applies  to  content  hosts,  not  to  intermediaries,  such  as  ISPs,   who  are  mere  conduits.  Thus,  the  Manila  Principles  do  not  support  a  “graduated  response”   regime  against  those  who  merely  access  allegedly  unlawful  content.   Canada   is   an   example   of   a   jurisdiction   with   a   notice   and   notice   regime,   though   limited   to   copyright   content   disputes.   Although   this   regime   is   now   established   in   legislation,   it   formalizes   a   previous   voluntary   regime,   whereby   major   ISPs   would   forward   copyright   infringement   notifications   received   from   rights-­‐holders   to   subscribers,   but   without   removing  any  content  and  without  releasing  subscriber  data  to  the  rights-­‐holders  absent  a   court  order.  Under  the  new  legislation  additional  record-­‐keeping  requirements  are  imposed   on  ISPs,  but  otherwise  the  essential  features  of  the  regime  remain  unchanged.

A

FT

Analysis  of  data  collected  during  this  voluntary  regime  indicates  that  it  has  been  effective  in   changing   the   behavior   of   allegedly   infringing   subscribers.     A   2010   study   by   the   Entertainment  Software  Association  of  Canada  (ESAC)  found  that  71%  of  notice  recipients   did   not   infringe   again,   whereas   a   similar   2011   study   by   Canadian   ISP   Rogers   found   68%   only   received   one   notice,   and   89%   received   no   more   than   two   notices,   with   only   1   subscriber  in  800,000  receiving  numerous  notices.78  However,  in  cases  where  a  subscriber   has   a   strong   good   faith   belief   that   the   notice   they   received   was   wrong,   there   is   no   risk   to   them   in   disregarding   the   erroneous   notice—a   feature   that   does   not   apply   to   notice   and   takedown.

R

II.d.  The  requests  and  orders  so  forwarded  must  provide  a  clear  and  accessible  explanation  of  the  user   content   provider’s   rights,   including   in   any   case   where   the   intermediary   is   compelled   by   law   to   restrict  the  content,  a  description  of  any  available  counter-­‐notice  or  appeal  mechanisms.    

D

In  the  Canadian  notice  and  notice  system,  some  of  the  notices  requesting  content  restriction   that   intermediaries   have   been   required   to   send   have   contained   misleading   information.79   We  do  not  suggest  that  intermediaries  should  be  required  to  vet  the  accuracy  of  all  notices   that   they   pass   on,   because   that   in   itself   would   require   them   to   exercise   a   level   of   legal   judgment  that  could  be  both  burdensome  and  inappropriate  to  entrust  to  them. However  what  can  be  required  is  that  standard-­‐form  information  can  be  included  with  all   notices  giving  details  of  the  rights  of  the  recipient  of  the  notice  to  contest  or  challenge  the   78

Geist,  Michael,  “Rogers  Provides  New  Evidence  on  Effectiveness  of  Notice-­‐and-­‐Notice  System”  March  23,  2011,   accessed  March  16,  2015.     79 Geist,  Michael,  “Rightscorp  and  BMG  Exploiting  Copyright  Notice-­‐and-­‐Notice  System:  Citing  False  Legal   Information  in  Payment  Demands”  January  8,  2015,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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facts  that  it  states,  and  the  intermediary  could  at  least  ensure  that  this  information  is  passed   along. Much  of  this  information  will  be  similar  from  one  notice  to  another,  but  some  details  may   differ  depending  on  the  grounds  on  which  the  content  restriction  is  made.  The  challenge  is   how  to  achieve  the  desired  level  of  clarity  if  the  claimant,  and  perhaps  the  intermediary,  are   unaware   of   all   the   applicable   legal   rules.   APC   has   suggested   the   use   of   standard   forms   raising  the  questions  relevant  for  such  determinations.80  Similarly,  Google  has  a  form  that   guides   the   claimant   through   a   series   of   questions,   before   ultimately   recommending   the   appropriate  legal  form  for  their  complaint  to  take.81

FT

Although   the   Manila   Principles   do   not   support   notice-­‐and-­‐action   regimes,   this   principle   does   have   particular   application   in   such   a   regime,   by   requiring   that   a   forwarded   notice   should   include   any   available   counter-­‐notice   procedures   so   that   content   providers   can   contest   mistaken   and   abusive   notices   and   have   their   content   reinstated   if   the   law   has   compelled   its   removal   prior   to   a   judicial   order   being   made.   Under   such   notice   and   action   regimes,  users  should  be  entitled  to  raise  defences  and  in  the  event  of  disputes,  they  should   be  referred  to  low  cost  arbitration,  and  the  notice  will  include  details  of  these  procedures.

Principle  III.  Content  restriction  policies  and  practices  must  be  procedurally  fair    

A

III.a.  Before  any  content  restriction  order  is  made,  the  intermediary  and  the  content  provider  shall  be   afforded  a  right  to  be  heard,  except  in  exceptional  circumstances  defined  by  law,  in  which  case  a   post  facto  review  of  the  order  must  take  place  as  soon  as  practicable.  

D

R

Courts   should   ensure   that   any   proceeding   deliberating   on   a   content   restriction   is   done   in   the  presence  of  the  author  or  the  person  who  uploaded  the  content,  providing  him  or  her,     the   right   to   be   heard.   Recognizing   that   there   are   exceptional   circumstances   that   may   require   the   government   or   law   enforcement   to   restrict   content   as   soon   as   possible,   without   the   time   or   ability   to   locate   an   author   for   a   proceeding—such   circumstances   should   be   permitted,  but  an  ex  post  facto  review  must  take  place  as  soon  as  possible.   This  is  an  important  part  of  due  process,  and  is  particularly  important  to  protect  against  the   abuse  of  ex-­‐parte  injunctions. We  do  not  attempt  to  list  the  sorts  of  exceptional  circumstances  that  may  justify  deviation   from   the   normal   role   of   a   judicial   hearing   prior   to   content   restriction.   However,   as   an   illustration  only,  the  UN  Special  Rapporteur  set  out  four  categories  of  content  that  must  be   prohibited   under   international   law   and   that   States   are   required   to   prohibit   domestically.   These   include:   (1)   child   pornography,   (2)   direct   and   public   incitement  to  commit  genocide,   80

 APC  report,  p.  28. See  Google,  “Removing  Content  From  Google,”  accessed  March  16,  2015.   81  

33

(3)   advocacy   of   national,   racial   or   religious   hatred   that   constitutes   incitement   to   discrimination,  hostility  or  violence,  (4)  and  incitement  to  terrorism.82  

FT

The   Special   Rapporteur   recognizes   that   access   to   these   four   categories   of   content   may   be   restricted,   and   in   case   of   child   pornography   and   incitement   to   commit   genocide,   underscores  that  the  use  of  blocking  and  filtering  technologies  must  be  sufficiently  precise,   and  that  there  must  be  adequate  and  effective  safeguards  against  abuse  or  misuse  including   oversight   and   review.   However,   he   stresses   that   while   the   four   types   of   expression   constitute  offences  under  international  criminal  law  and/or  international  human  rights  law   and   which   States   are   required   to   prohibit   at   the   domestic   level,   they   all   also   constitute   restrictions   to   the   right   to   freedom   of   expression.   He   further   reiterates,     that   all   content   restriction   and   blocking   practices   and   policies   must   comply   with   the   three-­‐part   test   of   prescription  by:  unambiguous  law;  pursuance  of  a  legitimate  purpose;  and  respect  for  the   principles   of   necessity   and   proportionality.   A   similar   (but   broader)   test   of   “manifest   illegality”   has   been   applied   in   several   jurisdictions   (eg.   France),83   and   a   “manifestly   ill-­‐ founded”  test  by  the  European  Court  of  Human  Rights  (ECHR).84  However  it  has  been  noted   by   Article   19   that   the   concept   of   manifest   illegality   is   too   broad   and   vague   in   relation   to   the   types   of   content   and   thus   introduces   a   level   of   ambiguity   that   many   intermediaries   (particularly   small   intermediaries)   will   be   less   qualified   to   judge   and   act   on   without   an   authoritative  determination.  

R

A

Beyond  content  that  can  be  categorized  as  manifestly  illegal,  content  owners  have  argued   that  content  that  infringes  copyright  should  be  removed  without  judicial  authorization  from   intermediaries’   networks,   on   the   grounds   that   judicial   content   orders   do   not   scale   to   the   level  required  to  address  the  rampant  infringement  of  copyright  works  on  intermediaries’   networks  and  platforms.

D

One   of   the   problems   with   this   argument   is   that   intellectual   property   infringements   are   rarely  so  legally  unambiguous  as  the  exceptional  cases  set  out  by  the  Special  Rapporteur.  As   Bits  of  Freedom  noted  in  its  submission85  to  the  European  Commission  public  consultation   on  procedures  for  notifying  and  acting  on  illegal  content  hosted  by  online  intermediaries:  

82

La  Rue,  Frank,  2011,  pp.8-­‐13.  Supra.  APC  report,  p.13;  See  also  Bits  of  Freedom,  “A  clean  and  open  Internet:  Public  consultation  on  procedures  for   notifying  and  acting  on  illegal  content  hosted  by  online  intermediaries,”  Response  to  the  EU  notice  and  action   consultation,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       84 See  “European  Convention  on  Human  Rights,”  Article  35(3)  under  (2)  of  the  Admissibility  Criteria,  accessed   March  16,  2015.     85  See  Bits  of  Freedom,  A  clean  and  open  Internet:  Public  consultation  on  procedures  for  notifying  and  acting  on   illegal  content  hosted  by  online  intermediaries.  Supra.   83

34

A   one-­‐approach-­‐fits-­‐all   will   not   work.   As   indicated   under   (5),   content   that   is   unmistakably   lawful   and   depicting   or   describing   criminal   behavior,   should   be   dealt   with   differently   from   content   that   is   unlawful   because   it   infringes   a   trademark,   copyright  or  other  rights  of  intellectual  property.  Such  infringements  must  of  course  be   terminated,  but  the  unlawfulness  will  be  harder  to  assess. III.b.  Except  in  such  exceptional  circumstances,  the  time  period  allotted  for  intermediaries  to  restrict   content  must  be  sufficient  to  allow  content  providers  time  to  contest  the  request  before  content   is  removed,  while  protecting  the  legitimate  rights  of  third  parties.    

It   is   only   through   the   intermediary   that   the   recipient   of   a   content   restriction   notice   may   become  aware  of  any  appeal  and  counter  notice  mechanisms  available  in  such  exceptional   circumstances;  therefore  it  is  important  that  these,  and  the  time  periods  for  their  exercise,   are   explained   in   clear   and   accessible   language   in   the   same   communication   by   which   the   notice  is  forwarded.  

FT

III.c.  Governments  must  make  available  to  both  user  content  providers  and  intermediaries  the  right  to   appeal  orders  for  content  restriction.  

A

Both  governments  and  intermediaries  should  provide  access  to  remedy  for  those  aggrieved   when   the   application   of   the   intermediary   liability   regime   results   in   a   decision   that   affects   them   negatively.   For   governments,   this   most   importantly   involves   ensuring   that   mechanisms  of  appeal  exist  when  content  is  wrongly  restricted—or  when  it  is  wrongly  not   restricted.

R

For  example,  the  lack  of  judicial  review  was  the  constitutional  flaw  in  the  original  HADOPI   legislation   in   France,   which   sought   to   address   the   related   issue   of   intellectual   property   enforcement  against  Internet  end-­‐users.86

D

Government   should   also   ensure   that   they   do   not   interfere   with   the   ability   for   intermediaries   to   remediate   the   wrongful   restriction   of   content   when   a   content   reinstatement   request   is   upheld.   This   is   particularly   relevant   in   the   case   of   data   erasure   requests   under   laws   that   recognize   what   has   become   popularly   known   as   a   “right   to   be   forgotten”.  87 Whilst   the   provision   of   access   to   remedy   by   intermediaries   has   to   be   subordinated   to   other   laws,   including   data   protection   laws,   such   laws   should   not   require   the   intermediary   to   permanently  erase  content  while  the  removal  request  remains  subject  to  review.  In  order  to   86

 Lovejoy,  Nathan  “Procedural  Concerns  with  the  HADOPI  Graduated  Response  Model,”  Harvard  Journal  of  Law   and  Technology,  JOLT  Digest,  January  13,  2011,  accessed  March  16,  2015.       87  Google  Inc.  v.  Agencia  Española  de  Protección  de  Datos  (AEPD)  and  Mario  Costeja  González.  Supra.

35

ensure   that   this   is   not   the   case,   there   is   an   urgent   need   to   harmonize   between   data   protection  and  intermediary  liability  laws.   III.d.   Intermediaries   should   provide   user   content   providers   with   mechanisms   to   appeal   decisions   to   restrict  content  for  terms  of  service  violation.    

Content  providers  cannot  rely  on  the  court  system  to  resolve  disputes  over  content  that  has   been  restricted  based  on  a  violation  of  terms  of  service,  because  many  content  restriction   requests   never   reach   the   judicial   system   before   the   intermediary   takes   action   on   them   under   terms   of   service.   It   is   incumbent   on   the   intermediary   in   such   cases   to   provide   and   to   communicate  a  clear  mechanism  for  review  and  appeal  of  the  content  restriction  decision. As  noted  in  the  UNESCO  Report:

R

A

FT

Remedy   is   the   third   central   pillar   of   the   UN   Guiding   Principles   on   Business   and   Human   Rights,   placing   an   obligation   on   governments   and   companies   to   provide   individuals   access  to  effective  remedy.  This  area  is  where  both  governments  and  companies  have   much   room   for   improvement.   Across   intermediary   types,   across   jurisdictions   and   across   the   types   of   restriction,   individuals   whose   content   or   publishing   access   is   restricted   as   well   as   individuals   who   wish   to   access   such   content   had   inconsistent,   limited,  or  no  effective  recourse  to  appeal  restriction  decisions,  whether  in  response  to   government  orders,  third  party  requests  or  in  accordance  with  company  policy.  While   some   companies   have   recently   increased   efforts   to   provide   appeal   and   grievance   mechanisms  and  communicate  their  existence  to  users,  researchers  identified  examples   of   rules   being   inconsistently   enforced   and   enforced   in   a   manner   also   not   consistent   with  the  principles  of  due  process.88 Similarly  the  WIPO  report  states:

D

Particular  attention  must  be  paid  to  some  kind  of  independent  scrutiny  of  accusations   of  alleged  copyright  infringement  before  any  sanctions  are  imposed,  as  well  as  access   to   review   afterwards,   as   the   Internet   Freedom   clause   demands.   Users   should   have   access   to   redress   for   economic,   reputational   and   privacy   harms   caused   by   false   or   negligent  allegations  in  a  way  that  effectively  discourages  such.89 Access   to   remedy   does   not   merely   refer   to   remedies   for   wrongful   content   removal,   but   also   for   privacy   violations,   defamation,   etc.   Sometimes   this   may   require   immediate   removal   and   only  a  possibility  of  subsequent  reinstatement,  yet  other  times  reinstatement  would  be  less   significant  and  the  ability  to  receive  notice  and  to  be  heard  are  more  important. 88  

UNESCO  report,  p.  86. WIPO  report,  p.72.

89

36

III.e.     In   order   to   provide   for   cases   in   which   a   user   content   provider   wins   an   appeal   against   the   restriction   of   content,   intermediaries   must   ensure   that   the   reinstatement   of   the   content   is   technically  possible.  

Whenever   an   intermediary   restricts   content,   there   should   be   a   clear   mechanism   through   which  users  can  request  reinstatement  of  content.  When  an  intermediary  decides  to  remove   content,   it   should   be   immediately   clear   to   the   user   that   content   has   been   removed   and   why   it  was  removed.  If  the  user  disagrees  with  the  content  removal  decision,  there  should  be  a   clear  and  accessible  online  method  for  the  reinstatement  of  content  to  be  requested.

FT

It   follows   that   reinstatement   of   content   should   also   be   technically   possible.   When   intermediaries  (who  are  subject  to  intermediary  liability)  are  building  new  products,  they   should   build   the   capability   to   remove   content   into   the   product   with   a   high   degree   of   specificity  so  as  to  allow  for  narrowly  tailored  content  removals  when  a  removal  is  legally   required.   Relatedly,   all   online   intermediaries   should   build   the   capability   to   reinstate   content   into   their   products,   to   the   extent   that   they   can   legally   do   so   while   maintaining   compliance  with  other  applicable  laws.

D

R

A

Intermediaries   should   also   have   policies   and   procedures   in   place   to   handle   reinstatement   requests.   Between   the   front   end   (online   mechanism   to   request   reinstatement   of   content)   and  the  backend  (technical  ability  to  reinstate  content)  is  the  necessary  middle  layer,  which   consists   of   the   intermediary’s   internal   policies   and   processes   that   allow   for   valid   reinstatement   requests   to   be   assessed   and   acted   upon.   In   line   with   the   corporate   “responsibility   to   respect”   human   rights,   and   considered   along   with   the   human   rights   principle  of  “access  to  remedy,”  intermediaries  should  have  a  system  in  place  from  the  time   that  an  online  product  launches  to  ensure  that  reinstatement  requests  can  be  made  and  will   be   processed   quickly   and   appropriately.   Any   notice   and   takedown   system   is   subject   to   abuse,   and   any   company   policy   that   results   in   the   removal   of   content   is   subject   to   mistaken   or  inaccurate  takedowns,  both  of  which  are  substantial  problems  that  can  only  be  remedied   by   the   ability   for   users   to   let   the   intermediary   know   when   the   intermediary   improperly   removed   a   specific   piece   of   content   and   the   technical   and   procedural   ability   of   the   intermediary  to  put  the  content  back.   Indeed,   intermediaries   should   endeavor   to   ensure   that   their   processes   for   dealing   with   content   restriction   requests   and   content   orders   are   fair.   In   this   regard   self   regulatory   frameworks   can   guide   best   practices   for   intermediaries   in   relation   to   removal   requests   and   in  particular  this  will  require  them  to  give  clear  notice  to  users  of  such  orders  and  requests,   and  to  provide  them  with  access  to  remedy  in  cases  where  content  is  wrongly  restricted.

37

III.f.    Intermediaries  should  be  allowed  to  charge  private  party  complainants  on  a  cost-­‐recovery  basis   for  the  time  and  expense  associated  with  processing  their  legal  requests.  

Governments   should   ensure   that   it   is   within   the   rights   of   intermediaries   to   charge   for   their   compliance   costs,   at   least   if   they   are   either   below   a   certain   user   threshold   or   can   show   financial  necessity  in  some  way.     Who  the  intermediary  can  charge  will  vary  based  on  the   source   of   the   request   or   order,   and   on   the   intermediary’s   terms   of   service,   and   may   include   governments,   rights   holders,   or   private   third   parties.   If   the   content   order   comes   from   a   court   for   the   restriction   of   unlawful   content,   intermediaries   should   not   be   permitted   to   charge  a  fee  unless  so  ordered  by  the  court.  

FT

As   an   intermediary,   it   is   time   consuming   and   relatively   expensive   to   understand   the   obligations   that   each   country’s   legal   regime   imposes,   and   to   accurately   assess   how   each   legal   request   should   be   handled.   Especially   for   intermediaries   without   many   resources,   such   as   forum   operators   or   owners   of   home   WiFi   networks,   the   costs   associated   with   being   an   intermediary   can   be   prohibitive.   To   offset   this   cost   and   ensure   that   intermediaries   place   the   necessary   resources   into   handling   restriction   requests,   they   should   be   allowed   to   charge  a  compliance  cost  to  the  applicable  parties,  where  requests  exceed  a  level  that  would   be  reasonable  for  the  intermediary  to  action  at  no  charge.  

A

III.g.   Governments   may   sanction   content   removal   requests   that   are   issued   without   reasonable   legal   justification  or  basis.  

D

R

In   order   to   deter   abuse,   senders   of   erroneous   or   abusive   notices   should   face   possible   sanctions.   For   example   a   sender   could   be   held   liable   for   damages   or   attorneys’   fees   for   making   improper   misrepresentations   (or   for   repeatedly   making   improper   misrepresentations).90   In   the   United   States,   senders   may   face   penalties   for   misrepresentations   of   infringement.     Such   penalties   may   not   be   sufficient,   however,   as   takedown  abuse  continues  to  occur.       III.h.   Any   liability   placed   on   an   intermediary   must   be   proportionate,   not   excessive,   and   directly       correlated  to  the  offence  caused  by  the  content.  

Governments   should   not   legally   impose   disproportionate   penalties   on   intermediaries.   In   the   case   that   an   intermediary   fails   to   comply   with   a   legal   obligation,   for   example   to   pass   on   a  notice  for  content  restriction,  this  should  be  proportionate  to  the  infraction  committed  by   the   intermediary   (for   example,   a   penalty   for   contempt   of   court,   if   applicable   in   the   case   of   a   court   order),   rather   than   being   the   same   penalty   that   would   apply   to   the   author   of   the   content.

90  

Id.

38

In   particular,   intermediaries   should   not   face   criminal   penalty   for   failing   to   comply   with   a   content  order.    Heavy  or  disproportionate  penalties  push  intermediaries  to  remove  content,   even   when   it   may   be   lawful,   in   order   to   avoid   penalty.   This   overblocking   has   a   negative   impact  on  freedom  of  expression  and  disincentivizes  intermediaries  from  challenging  extra-­‐ legal  content  orders.    

Principle  IV.    The  extent  of  content  restriction  must  be  minimized   IV.a.  Content  restriction  orders  must  be  narrowly  tailored  to  specified  unlawful  content,  and  nothing   else.  

Judicial   orders   determining   the   unlawfulness   of   specific   content   and   mandating   its   restriction  should  be  clear,  specific,  and  narrowly  tailored  to  avoid  over-­‐removal  of  content.   To  this  end,  courts  should  only  order  the  removal  of  the  bare  minimum  of  content  that  is   necessary  to  remedy  the  harm  identified  and  nothing  more.

FT

As  CDT  asserts  in  its  2012  intermediary  liability  report:

D

R

A

Actions   required   of   intermediaries   must   be   narrowly   tailored   and   proportionate,   to   protect  the  fundamental  rights  of  Internet  users.  Any  actions  that  a  safe-­‐harbor  regime   requires   intermediaries   to   take   must   be   evaluated   in   terms   of   the   principle   of   proportionality   and   their   impact   on   Internet   users’   fundamental   rights,   including   rights  to  freedom  of  expression,  access  to  information,  and  protection  of  personal  data.   Laws   that   encourage   intermediaries   to   take   down   or   block   certain   content   have   the   potential   to   impair   online   expression   or   access   to   information.   Such   laws   must   therefore  ensure  that  the  actions  they  call  for  are  proportional  to  a  legitimate  aim,  no   more  restrictive  than  is  required  for  achievement  of  the  aim,  and  effective  for  achieving   the   aim.   In   particular,   intermediary   action   requirements   should   be   narrowly   drawn,   targeting   specific   unlawful   content   rather   than   entire   websites   or   other   Internet   resources  that  may  support  both  lawful  and  unlawful  uses.91   Whilst  this  recommendation  addresses  governments,  it  also  can  apply  to  courts  as  well  as     intermediaries.  This  is  because,  depending  on  jurisdiction  and  location  of  where  the  content   order   is   originating   from,   intermediaries   may   retain   discretion   about   how   to   respond   to   that  order.

91  

Center  for  Democracy  and  Technology,  “Shielding  the  Messengers:  Protecting  Platforms  for  Expression  and   Innovation”  p.  12.  Supra.  

39

IV.b.   When   restricting   content,   the   least   restrictive   technical   means   must   be   adopted   by   the   intermediary.  

Intermediaries  implementing  court  orders,  private  third  party  requests,  or  enforcing  their   terms   of   service   should   adopt   the   least   restrictive   means   of   doing   so.   This   determination   should  take  into  consideration  the  proportionality  of  the  harm  caused/to  be  caused  by  the   content,  the  nature  of  the  content,  the  class  of  intermediary,  the  impact  on  affected  users,   and  the  proximity  to  the  content  uploader.   There   are   a   number   of   different   ways   that   access   to   content   can   be   restricted.   Examples   applicable  to  content  hosts  include: ● hard  deletion  of  the  content  from  all  of  a  company’s  servers, ● blocking  the  download  of  an  app  or  other  software  program  in  a  particular  country,

FT

● blocking   the   content   on   all   IP   addresses   affiliated   with   a   particular   country   (“IP   blocking”), ● removing   the   content   from   a   particular   domain   of   a   product   (eg,   removing   from   a   link   from   the   .fr   version   of   a   search   engine   that   remains   accessible   from   the   .com   version),

A

● blocking   content   from   a   ‘version’   of   an   online   product   that   is   accessible   through   a   ‘country’  or  ‘language’  setting  on  that  product,  or

R

● some   combination   of   the   last   three   options   (i.e.,   an   online   product   that   directs   the   user  to  a  version  of  the  product  based  on  the  country  that  their  IP  address  is  coming   from,  but  where  the  user  can  alter  a  URL  or  manipulate  a  drop-­‐down  menu  to  show   her  a  different  ‘country  version’  of  the  product,  providing  access  to  content  that  may   otherwise  be  inaccessible).

D

Examples  applicable  to  conduits  include: ● filtering  based  on  full  URL,  destination  DNS  or  IP  address,  and ● content  filtering  based  on  type  of  traffic,  content  of  traffic  (eg.  keywords  revealed  by   deep  packet  inspection). While   almost   all   of   the   different   types   of   content   restrictions   described   above   can   be   circumvented  by  technical  means  such  as  the  use  of  proxies,  IP-­‐cloaking,  or  Tor,  the  average   Internet   user   does   not   know   that   these   techniques   exist,   much   less   how   to   use   them.   Of   the   different   types   of   content   restrictions   described   above,   a   domain   removal,   for   example,   is   easier  for  an  individual  user  to  circumvent  than  IP  blocked  content  because  you  only  have   to  change  the  URL  of  the  product  you  are  using  to,  i.e.  “.com”  to  see  content  that  has  been   40

locally   restricted.   To   get   around   an   IP   block,   you   would   have   to   be   sufficiently   savvy   to   employ  a  proxy  or  cloak  your  true  IP  address. Therefore,  the  technical  means  used  to  restrict  access  to  controversial  content  has  a  direct   impact  on  the  magnitude  of  the  actual  restriction  on  speech  as  well  as  the  extent  to  which   an   individual’s   privacy   is   infringed   upon.   The   more   restrictive   the   technical   removal   method,  the  fewer  people  that  will  have  access  to  that  content.  To  preserve  access  to  lawful   content,  online  intermediaries  should  choose  the  least  restrictive  means  of  complying  with   removal  requests,  especially  when  the  removal  request  is  based  on  the  law  of  a  particular   country   that   makes   certain   content   unlawful   that   is   not   unlawful   in   other   countries.   Further,  when  building  new  products  and  services,  intermediaries  should  build  in  removal   capability  that  minimally  restricts  access  to  controversial  content.    

FT

The   2011   Joint   Declaration   on   Freedom   of   Expression   and   the   Internet   issued   by   the   four   rapporteurs   on   freedom   of   expression   made   the   following   points   about   the   dangers   of   allowing  filtering  technology:

A

Mandatory  blocking  of  entire  websites,  IP  addresses,  ports,  network  protocols  or  types   of   uses   (such   as   social   networking)   is   an   extreme   measure—analogous   to   banning   a   newspaper   or   broadcaster—which   can   only   be   justified   in   accordance   with   international   standards,   for   example   where   necessary   to   protect   children   against   sexual  abuse.

R

Content   filtering   systems   which   are   imposed   by   a   government   or   commercial   service   provider   and   which   are   not   end-­‐user   controlled   are   a   form   of   prior   censorship   and   are   not  justifiable  as  a  restriction  on  freedom  of  expression.  There  has  been  a  problem  of   over-­‐removal,  such  as  child  safety  filters  that  also  remove  safe  sex  information.

D

Products  designed  to  facilitate  end-­‐user  filtering  should  be  required  to  be  accompanied   by  clear  information  to  end-­‐users  about  how  they  work  and  their  potential  pitfalls  in   terms  of  over-­‐inclusive  filtering.92 Similarly,  the  Council  of  Europe  has  suggested  a  number  of  safeguards  in  relation  to  the  use   of  filters  by  intermediaries,  recommending  that  states  should:   •

introduce   regulations   where   necessary   to   prevent   the   intentional   use   of   filters   to   restrict  access  to  lawful  content  



assess  filters  both  before  and  during  their  implementation  to  ensure  their  effects   are  appropriate  and  proportional  and  avoid  unreasonable  blocking  of  content  

92

 Joint  Declaration  on  Freedom  of  Expression  and  the  Internet,  pp.  2-­‐3.  Supra.

41



Provide   for   effective   means   of   recourse   including   suspension   of   filters   where   users  claim  lawful  content  or  access  is  being  blocked.93

In  short,  filtering  at  the  conduit  level  is  a  blunt  instrument  that  should  be  avoided  whenever   possible.  Similarly  to  how  conduits  should  not  be  legally  responsible  for  content  that  they   neither   host   nor   modify   (the   “mere   conduit”   rule   discussed   supra),   mere   conduits   are   not   able   to   assess   the   context   surrounding   the   controversial   content   that   they   are   asked   to   remove   and   are   therefore   not   the   appropriate   party   to   receive   takedown   requests.   Therefore,   governments   should   not   require   conduits   to   build   in   the   capability   to   filter   content.94

A

FT

On  the  part  of  governments,  a  key  element  of  due  process  lies  within  the  legal  system  itself.   An  independent  and  impartial  judiciary  exists,  at  least  in  part,  to  preserve  the  citizen’s  due   process   rights.   Many   have   called   for   an   increased   reliance   on   courts   to   make   determinations   about   the   legality   of   content   posted   online   in   order   to   both   shift   the   censorship  function  from  unaccountable  private  actors  and  to  ensure  that  courts  only  order   the   removal   of   content   that   is   actually   unlawful.   However,   when   courts   do   not   have   an   adequate  technical  understanding  of  how  content  is  created  and  shared  on  the  internet,  the   rights   of   the   intermediaries   that   facilitate   the   posting   of   the   content,   and   who   should   be   ordered  to  remove  unlawful  content,  they  can  damage  the  online  ecosystem.  Therefore,  we   recommend   that   courts   seek   expertise   about   the   technical   feasibility   of   restriction   measures  to  ensure  that  the  least  restrictive  technical  means  be  adopted.

R

IV.c.   If   content   is   restricted   because   it   is   unlawful   in   a   particular   geographical   region,   and   if   the   intermediary   offers   a   geographically   variegated   service,   then   the   geographical   scope   of   the   content  restriction  must  be  so  limited.  

D

Intermediaries  should  restrict  content  in  the  most  limited  way  possible  in  order  to  preserve   freedom   of   expression.   This   includes,   when   possible,     intermediaries   applying   geographical   filters  to  content  based  on  the  jurisdiction  in  which  the  content  is  allegedly  unlawful.   A   user   should   be   able   to   access   content   that   is   lawful   in   her   country   even   if   it   is   unlawful   in   another   country.   Different   countries   have   different   laws   and   it   is   often   difficult   for   intermediaries   to   determine   how   to   effectively   respond   to   requests   and   reconcile   the   inherent   conflicts   that   results   from   jurisdictional   differences.   For   example,   content   that   denies   the   holocaust   is   illegal   in   certain   countries,   but   not   in   others.   If   an   intermediary   93

 Council  of  Europe,  “Recommendation  on  freedom  of  expression  and  information  with  regard  to  Internet   filters,”  March  26,  2008,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   94 See  “International  Principles  on  the  Application  of  Human  Rights  to  Communications  Surveillance”,  Supra.   “'States  should  not  compel  service  providers  or  hardware  or  software  vendors  to  build  surveillance  or   monitoring  capability  into  their  systems”. 42

receives   a   request   to   remove   content   based   on   the   laws   of   a   particular   country   and   determines  that  it  will  comply  because  the  content  is  not  lawful  in  that  country,  it  should   not  restrict  access  to  the  content  such  that  it  cannot  be  accessed  by  users  in  other  countries   where  the  content  is  lawful. To  respond  to  a  request  based  on  the  law  of  a  particular  country  by  blocking  access  to  that   content   for   users   around   the   world,   or   even   users   of   more   than   one   country,   essentially   allows  for  extraterritorial  application  of  the  laws  of  the  country  that  the  request  came  from.   A   current   example   of   this   is   in   the   case   of   Equustek   Solutions   v.   Morgan   Jack,   in   which   a   Canadian   trial   judge   ruled   that   Google   must   remove   links   to   full   websites   that   contained   pages   selling   a   product   that   allegedly   infringed   trade   secret   rights,   not   only   from   its   Canadian  search  pages,  but  around  the  world.  (Google  appealed,  and  EFF  has  intervened  in   that  appeal,  which  remains  pending.)

FT

While   it   is   preferable   to   standardize   and   limit   the   legal   requirements   imposed   on   online   intermediaries   throughout   the   world,   to   the   extent   that   this   is   not   possible,   the   next-­‐best   option   is   to   limit   the   application   of   laws   that   are   interpreted   to   declare   certain   content   unlawful  to  the  users  that  live  in  that  country.  Therefore,  intermediaries  should  choose  the   technical   means   of   content   restriction   that   is   most   narrowly   tailored   to   limit   the   geographical  scope  and  impact  of  the  removal.

A

IV.d.    If  content  is  restricted  owing  to  its  unlawfulness  for  a  limited  duration,  the  restriction  must  not   last  beyond  this  duration,  and  the  restriction  order  must  be  reviewed  periodically  to  ensure  it   remains  valid.  

R

Similarly,  the  temporal  scope  of  restriction  should  be  as  limited  as  necessary  to  comply   with  the  law.  See  also  Principle  II.b  above.

D

Principle  V.  Transparency  and  accountability  should  be  built  in  to  content  restriction   practices     Transparency   and   accountability   are   integral   facets   of   democratic   government.   But   the   Manila   Principles   extends   these   standards   to   intermediaries   also,   in   view   of   their   role   in   facilitating   the   speech   of   their   users.   Although   the   Manila   Principles   do   not   prohibit   intermediaries   who   are   content   hosts   from   restricting   content   for   terms   of   service   violations,   this   is   on   the   basis   that   those   terms   of   service   are   transparent,   and   that   the   intermediary  is  accountable  for  their  implementation. The  UNESCO  report  states: Transparency  of  laws,  policies,  practices,  decisions,  rationales,  and  outcomes  related  to   privacy  and  restrictions  on  freedom  of  expression  allow  users  to  make  informed  choices  

43

about   their   own   actions   and   speech   online.   Transparency   is   therefore   important   to   internet  users’  ability  to  exercise  their  rights  to  privacy  and  freedom  of  expression.95 V.a.   Governments   must   publish   all   legislation,   policy,   and   other   forms   of   regulation   relevant   to   intermediary   liability   online   and   in   accessible   formats.   Individuals   should   be   able   to   seek   explanation   and   clarification   of   the   scope   or   applicability   of   such   legislation,   regulation   and   policies  from  the  government.  

Firstly,   governments   should   ensure   that   the   statutory   intermediary   liability   regime   is   explained   in   plain   language,   perhaps   on   the   same   website   as   its   transparency   report   described   at   V.c.   This   should   include   any   co-­‐regulatory   arrangements   reached   by   governments   and   industry   that   are   not   directly   the   subject   of   legislation.   Governments   should  also  create  forums  and  mechanisms  through  which  users  can  provide  feedback  and   seek  clarification  on  the  legal  regime  applying  to  intermediary  liability. V.b.   Intermediaries   must   publish   their   content   restriction   policies   online,   in   clear   language   and   accessible  formats  and  keep  them  updated  as  they  evolve.    

FT

Intermediaries   too   should   have   clear   policies   that   are   published   online   and   kept   up-­‐to-­‐date   to   provide   its   users   notice   of   what   content   is   and   is   not   permitted   on   the   company’s   platform.    The  UNESCO  report  states,  by  way  of  background,  that:

R

A

While  all  social  networks  list  content  they  prohibit,  none  of  the  companies  studied  has   provided   much   public   information   about   procedures   for   evaluating   content.   Industry   sources   have   described   internal   rules   and   procedures   for   evaluating   content   in   conversations   with   concerned   stakeholders,   held   on   condition   of   non-­‐attribution,   but   such  processes  are  generally  not  made  public.  It  is  usually  through  anecdotal  evidence   via  news  reports  that  the  public  learns  about  specific  examples.96

D

Notice   to   the   user   about   the   types   of   content   that   are   permitted   encourages   her   to   speak   freely  and  helps  her  to  understand  why  content  that  she  posted  was  taken  down  if  it  must   be  taken  down  for  violating  a  company  policy.  This  should  also  include  any  self-­‐regulatory   arrangements  on  which  a  number  of  intermediaries  have  reached  between  themselves,  or   with   other   industry   segments   such   as   copyright   owners,   payment   intermediaries   and   advertisers,   to   the   extent   that   these   impact   the   content   permissible   on   the   intermediary’s   platform.   There  are  legitimate  reasons  why  an  ISP  may  want  to  have  policies  that  permit  less  content,   and   a   narrower   range   of   content,   than   is   technically   permitted   under   the   law,   such   as   maintaining  a  product  that  appeals  to  families.  Since  these  policies  are  poorly  documented   by   intermediaries   at   present,   a   community   initiative,   onlinecensorship.org,   has   recently   95  

UNESCO  report,  p.  86. UNESCO  report,  p.  162.

96

44

been  established  to  gather  evidence  of  how  intermediaries,  specifically  major  social  media   platforms,  are  applying  their  own  content  policies. V.c.   Governments   must   publish   transparency   reports   that   provide   specific   information   about   all   content  orders  and  requests  issued  by  them  to  intermediaries.    

As   part   of   the   democratic   process,   the   citizens   of   each   country   (as   well   as   non-­‐citizen   residents)   have   a   right   to   know   how   their   government   is   applying   its   laws,   and   a   right   to   provide   feedback   about   the   government’s   legal   interpretations   of   its   laws.   Thus,   all   governments   should   be   required   to   publish   online   transparency   reports   that   provide   specified  information  about  content  orders  issued  by  government  to  intermediaries.  

FT

As   such,   the   Special   Rapporteur   has   called   upon   States   that   currently   block   websites   to   provide  lists  of  blocked  websites  and  full  details  regarding  the  necessity  and  justification  for   blocking  each  individual  website.97  An  explanation  should  also  be  provided  on  the  affected   websites  as  to  why  they  have  been  blocked.  Any  determination  on  what  content  should  be   blocked   must   be   undertaken   by   a   competent   judicial   authority   or   a   body   which   is   independent  of  any  political,  commercial,  or  other  unwarranted  influences.

R

A

For  example,  this  information  should  include  aggregate  numbers  of  orders  issued,  reasons   for   content   restriction,   the   legal   nature   of   the   orders   (that   is,   executive   or   judicial),   the   government  branch  requesting  the  restriction,  and  the  numbers  of  cases  where  content  was   reinstated.   Where   possible,   the   aggregate   data   that   constitutes   each   government’s   transparency  report  should  be  made  available  online,  for  free,  in  a  common  file  format  such   as   .csv,   so   that   civil   society   may   have   easy   access   to   it   for   research   purposes.   Of   course,   personally  identifiable  information  (PII)  should  be  removed  from  any  such  data  sets.

D

There   may   be   merit   in   publishing   this   information   centrally   across   all   of   government,   providing   a   holistic   view   of   the   burden   imposed   on   intermediaries,   encouraging   dialogue   between   different   branches   of   government   about   how   best   to   create   and   enforce   internet   content  regulation,  and  between  the  government  and  its  citizens  about  the  laws  and  policies   applicable  to  internet  content. Finally,   governments   should   allow   for   intermediaries   to   publish   transparency   reports   detailing   all   content   orders   requests   from   government   agencies   and   courts   in   a   periodic   transparency   report,   accessible   on   the   intermediary’s   website,   that   publishes   information   about  the  requests  the  intermediary  received  and  what  the  intermediary  did  with  them  in   the  highest  level  of  detail  that  is  legally  possible.

97

   La  Rue,  Frank,  2011,  Supra.  Paragraph  70.

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V.d.   Intermediaries   should   publish   transparency   reports   that   provide   specific   information   about   all   content   restrictions   taken   by   the   intermediary   including   government   requests,   court   orders,   private  party  requests  and  terms  of  service  enforcement.  

A   similar   obligation   is   expected   of   intermediaries.   Regrettably,   this   is   an   area   that   intermediary  liability  regimes  overlook.  The  UNESCO  report  states: The  practice  and  scope  of  company  and  government  transparency  about  surveillance   practices,   filtering   and   service   restrictions   vary   across   jurisdictions.   In   none   of   the   countries   studied   are   ISPs   legally   required   to   be   transparent   about   their   policy   or   practice  regarding  filtering,  service  restrictions,  or  surveillance  measures.98 The  scope  of  information  to  be  disclosed  is  broad,  though  steps  should  be  taken  to  prevent   the  disclosure  of  personal  information  in  the  publication  of  transparency  reports,  and  it  will   not   be   necessary   to   provide   details   of   the   individual   (and   likely   automated)   blocking   of   malicious  content  such  as  spam  and  phishing  material.

A

FT

Subject  to  this,  the  more  information  that  is  provided  about  each  request,  the  better  is  the   understanding   that   the   public   will   have   about   how   laws   that   affect   their   rights   online   are   being  applied.  Therefore,  intermediaries  should  strive  to  publish  the  maximum  amount  of   information   about   each   request   that   they   can,   subject   as   well   to   the   (ideally   minimal)   restrictions   imposed   by   applicable   law,   and   the   economic   scale.   Where   scale   is   a   barrier,   representative  sampling  may  be  an  alternative.  

CDT  states:

D

R

Related   to   this,   the   obligation   to   issue   transparency   reports   must   be   relative   to   the   scale   on   which   the   intermediary   operates.   The   public   interest   in   transparency   reporting   is   much   higher  for  large  intermediaries  with  a  large  number  of  users.  For  small  intermediaries,  such   as   message   board   and   public   WiFi   operators,   proactive   transparency   reporting   is   not   expected.   Community   initiatives   such   as   Chilling   Effects   help   by   providing   a   free   central   hosting   repository   to   which   intermediaries   can   submit   content   restriction   requests   that   they  have  received.99

Disclosure   by   service   providers   of   notices   received   and   actions   taken   can   provide   an   important  check  against  abuse.  In  addition  to  providing  valuable  data  for  assessing  the   value  and  effectiveness  of  a  N&A  [notice  and  action]  system,  creating  the  expectation   that   notices   will   be   disclosed   may   help   deter   fraudulent   or   otherwise   unjustified   notices.   In   contrast,   without   transparency,   Internet   users   may   remain   unaware   that   content  they  have  posted  or  searched  for  has  been  removed  pursuant  due  to  a  notice  of   98  

UNESCO  report,  p.  86.  See  “Chilling  Effects  database,”  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

99

46

alleged   illegality.   Requiring   notices   to   be   submitted   to   a   central   publication   site   would   provide   the   most   benefit,   enabling   patterns   of   poor   quality   or   abusive   notices   to   be   readily  exposed.100   A  thorough  transparency  report  published  by  an  intermediary  should  include  information   about  the  following  categories  of  requests:   ●

Government  requests  

This   category   includes   all   requests   to   the   intermediary   from   government   agencies;   from   police   departments,   to   intelligence   agencies,   to   school   boards   from   small   towns.   Surfacing   information   about   all   restriction   requests   from   any   part   of   the   government   helps   to   avoid   corruption   and/or   inappropriate   exercises   of   governmental  power  by  reminding  all  government  officials,  regardless  of  their  rank   or   seniority,   that   information   about   the   requests   they   submit   to   online   intermediaries  is  subject  to  public  scrutiny.



FT

Vodafone’s   country   by   country   report   of   government   orders   and   demands   are   an   example.   They   even   have   a   policy   on   privacy,   human   rights   and   law   enforcement   assistance.  However,  they  do  not  publish  any   reports  on  content  that  they  are  taking   down  pursuant  to  their  terms  of  service.101 Court  orders  

D

R

A

This  category  includes  all  orders  issued  by  courts  and  signed  by  a  judicial  officer.  It   can   include   ex-­‐parte   orders,   default   judgments,   court   orders   directed   at   an   online   intermediary,  or  court  orders  directed  at  a  third  party  presented  to  the  intermediary   as  evidence  in  support  of  a  removal  request.  To  the  extent  legally  possible,  detailed   information  should  be  published  about  these  court  orders  detailing  the  type  of  court   order   each   request   was,   its   constituent   elements,   and   the   actions(s)   that   the   intermediary   took   in   response   to   it.   In   most   cases   court   orders   are   published   openly   as   a   requirement   of   access   to   justice,   but   there   may   be   cases   where   personally   identifying  information  should  be  redacted  from  any  court  orders  that  are  published   by  the  intermediary  as  part  of  a  transparency  report  before  publication. Information   about   court   orders   should   be   further   broken   down   into   two   groups;   orders   against   the   intermediary,   and   orders   against   the   party   who   posted   the   disputed   content.   The   first   category   is   the   simplest;   where   court   orders   are   directed   at   the   online   intermediary   in   an   adversarial   proceeding   to   which   the   online   100

Center  for  Democracy  and  Technology,  “Additional  Responses  Regarding  Notice  and  Action,”  accessed  March   16,  2015.   101  See  Vodafone,  “Country-­‐by-­‐country  disclosure  of  law  enforcement  assistance  demands,”  accessed  March   16,  2015.  

47

intermediary   was   a   party,   either   as   the   primary   defendant   or   as   a   third   party   respondent.   As   noted   above   at   I.b,   it   will   generally   not   be   consistent   for   the   Manila   Principles   for   an   intermediary   to   act   upon   a   court   order   that   is   not   directed   to   it   specifically.   Nonetheless   if   the   user   who   obtains   a   court   order   approaches   an   online   intermediary  seeking  removal  of  content  with  a  court  order  directed  at  the  poster  of,   say,   defamatory   content,   and   the   intermediary   decides   to   remove   the   content   in   response   to   the   request,   the   online   intermediary   that   decided   to   perform   the   takedown  should  publish  a  record  of  that  removal.  

FT

This   type   of   court   order   should   be   broken   out   separately   from   court   orders   directed   at   the   applicable   online   intermediary   in   companies’   transparency   reports   because   merely  providing  aggregate  numbers  that  do  not  distinguish  between  the  two  types   gives   an   inaccurate   impression   to   users   that   more   takedown   requests   are   being   directed   at   intermediaries   than   is   actually   the   case.   When   the   court   made   its   determination  of  legality  on  the  content  in  question,  it  may  not  have  contemplated   that   the   intermediary   would  remove  the  content.  If  so,  the  court  likely  did  not   weigh   the  relevant  public  interest  and  policy  factors  that  would  include  the  importance  of   freedom  of  expression  or  the  precedential  value  of  its  decision.  



D

R

A

Instead,   and   especially   considering   that   these   third   party   court   order   may   be   the   basis  for  a  number  of  content  removals,  third  party  court  orders  should  be  counted   separately   and   presented   with   some   published   explanation   in   the   company’s   transparency   report   as   to   what   they   are   and   why   the   company   has   decided   it   should   removed   content   pursuant   to   its   receipt   of   one.   The   intermediary   should   also   identify  in  the  report  the  legal  grounds  for  removal  (in  terms  of  legislation  violated   or  more  generally,  area  of  law). Private  party  requests  

Private   party   requests   are   requests   to   remove   content   that   are   not   issued   by   a   government   agency   or   accompanied   by   a   court   order.   Some   examples   of   private   party   requests   include   copyright   complaints   submitted   pursuant   to   the   Digital   Millennium  Copyright  Act  or  complaints  based  on  the  laws  of  specific  countries,  such   as  laws  banning  holocaust  denial  in  Germany,  and  which  authorize  or  require  the  ISP   to   act   in   the   absence   of   a   court   order.   Note   that   the   Manila   Principles   does   not   sanction   the   restriction   of   content   in   response   to   such   a   request,   but   we   acknowledge  the  reality  that  this  does  represent  that  law  in  many  jurisdictions. ●

Policy/TOS  enforcement  

To   give   users   a   complete   picture   of   the   content   that   is   being   removed   from   the   platforms   that   they   use,   corporate   transparency   reports   should   also   provide   48

information   about   the   content   that   the   intermediary   removes   pursuant   to   its   own   policies  or  terms  of  service,  though  there  may  not  be  a  legal  requirement  to  do  so.  All   past  versions  of  policies  and  any  changes  made  to  them  must  be  included  as  part  of   the  intermediaries’  transparency  efforts.     V.e.    Where  content  has  been  restricted  on  a  product  or  service  of  the  intermediary  that  allows  it  to   display  a  notice  when  an  attempt  to  access  that  content  is  made,  the  intermediary  must  display  a   clear  notice  that  explains,  in  simple  terms,  what  content  has  been  restricted  and  why.  

If  content  is  removed  or  access  to  it  is  restricted  for  any  reason,  either  pursuant  to  a  legal   request  or  because  of  a  violation  of  company’s  terms  of  service,    in  general  a  user  should  be   able  to  learn  that  the  content  was  restricted  if  they  try  to  access  it.

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Requiring  an  on-­‐screen  message  that  explains  that  content  has  been  restricted  and  why,  is   the  post-­‐takedown  complement  to  the  pre-­‐takedown  published  online  policy  of  the  online   intermediary:  both  work  together  to  show  the  user  what  types  of  content  are  and  are  not   permitted  on  each  online  platform.  Explaining  to  users  why  content  has  been  restricted  in   sufficient   detail   may   also   spark   their   curiosity   as   to   the   laws   or   policies   that   caused   the   content   to   be   restricted,   resulting   in   increased   civic   engagement   in   the   Internet   law   and   policy   space,   and   a   community   of   citizens   that   demands   that   the   companies   and   governments   it   interacts   with   are   more   responsive   to   how   it   thinks   content   regulation   should  work  in  the  online  context.

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It  must  be  acknowledged  that  for  conduits,  as  opposed  to  content  hosts,  it  may  not  always   be   technically   feasible   to   provide   a   notice   of   content   which   is   unavailable   due   to   filtering.   However   at   least   for   website   that   have   been   filtered,   it   is   technically   simple   for   intermediaries  to  redirect  the  attempted  access  to  a  page  which  explains  why  the  website  is   unavailable.   There   is   even   a   proposal   for   web   standard   that   would   provide   a   standard   browser  error  code  for  this  purpose.102   Some  limited  exceptions  to  the  duty  to  notify  users  of  restricted  content  may  apply,  mainly   for   the   protection   of   personally   identifiable   information.   In   particular,   when   personally   identifiable  information  is  removed  in  compliance  with  data  protection  law,  to  notify  users   of   the   former   presence   of   that   content   could   spark   a   “Streisand   effect”,   whereby   the   restriction  of  access  actually  draws  more  attention  to  the  content  than  when  there  was  no   restriction.  This  could  actually  obviate  the  purpose  of  the  removal.  It  is  for  this  reason  that   the   European   Privacy   Commissioner   advised   Google   not   to   notify   the   public   of   particular   search  results  that  it  had  removed  under  European  data  protection  law  on  the  grounds  that   they   contained   "inadequate,   irrelevant   or   no   longer   relevant"   information   about   102

See  Internet  Engineering  Task  Force  (IETF),  “An  HTTP  Status  Code  to  Report  Legal  Obstacles,”  December  16,   2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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individuals.103   Instead,   Google   places   a   notice   on   every   page   that   appears   to   be   a   search   result   for   a   personal   name   search,   simply   saying   that   results   may   have   been   removed.   Whilst   this   is   better   than   users   receiving   no   notice   at   all,   the   utility   of   such   a   blanket   notification  is  dubious. V.f.   Governments,   intermediaries   and   civil   society   should   work   together   to   develop   and   maintain   independent,   transparent   and   impartial   oversight   mechanisms   to   ensure   the   accountability   of   content  restriction  policy  and  practice.  

Governments   should   support   independent,   transparent,   and   impartial   accountability   mechanisms  to  verify  the  practices  of  government  and  companies  with  regards  to  managing   content  created  online.  The  UNESCO  report  states:

FT

It   is   important   that   companies   and   governments   alike   make   commitments   to   implement   core   principles   of   freedom   of   expression   and   privacy.   In   today’s   globally   networked  digital  environment,  these  principles  must  be  implemented  in  a  manner  that   is  accountable  locally  as  well  as  globally.

A

Examples   from   the   consumer   privacy   context   include:   the   European   Union’s   Binding   Corporate  Rules  and  the  APEC  Cross  Border  Privacy  Rules  system.  Another  approach  to   accountability   for   companies   is   through   assessment   and   certification   by   independent   multi-­‐stakeholder   organizations.   The   Global   Network   Initiative,   a   multistakeholder   coalition,   requires   its   members   to   undergo   periodic   assessments   as   part   of   an   accountability   mechanism   for   adherence   to   its   principles   and   implementation   guidelines  focused  on  how  companies  handle  government  requests.104

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Often  self  regulation  takes  place  under  the  “shadow  of  the  state”;  that  is  all  sides  act  under   the   threat   that   the   State   may   intervene   if   no   compromise   is   found   or   public   interests   are   seriously  threatened105  which  may  lead  to  invisible  censorship  with  implications  for  human   rights  as  these  measures  often  do  not  have  independent  oversight  mechanisms  for  ensuring   accountability.106  However,  self  regulation  also  takes  place  where  there  is  no  regulation  and   when  done  effectively  and  in  collaboration  with  governments,  provides  the  opportunity  to   adapt  rapidly  to  technical  progress.  Relying  on  just  one  set  of  actors  or  a  single  approach  to   103

See  Smith,  David,  “Response  to  the  European  Google  judgment,”  Information  Commissioner’s  Office  Blog,   August  7,  2014,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   104   UNESCO  report,  p.192. 105 See  Oxford  University,  Centre  for  Socio-­‐Legal  Studies,  Programme  in  Comparative  Law  and  Policy  (PCMLP),   “Self-­‐Regulation  of  Digital  Media  Converging  on  the  Internet:  Industry  Codes  of  Conduct  in  Sectoral  Analysis,”   2004,  p.  37,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   106  See  Prakash,  Pranesh,  “Invisible  Censorship:  How  the  Government  Censors  Without  Being  Seen,”  Centre  for   Internet  and  Society,  December  14,  2011,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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address  content  concerns  may  not  work  and  restriction  policies  and  practices,  must  aim  at   incorporating   a   systemic   approach   to   self   regulation   by   governments,   industry   and   rights   holders.107   It   is   key   though   that   any   approach   incorporate   independent,   transparent   and   impartial   oversight   mechanisms   to   ensure   the   accountability   of   content   restriction   policy   and  practice. Civil  society  also  has  a  role  to  play  in  encouraging  comparative  studies  between  countries   and   between   intermediaries   with   regards   to   their   content   removal   practices,   to   identify   best  practices.  Civil  society  has  the  unique  ability  to  look  longitudinally  across  this  issue  to   determine  and  compare  how  different  intermediaries  and  governments  are  responding  to   content   removal   requests.   Without   information   about   how   other   governments   and   intermediaries   are   handling   these   issues,   it   will   be   difficult   for   each   government   or   intermediary   to   learn   how   to   improve   its   laws   or   policies.   Therefore,   civil   society   has   an   important  role  to  play  in  the  process  of  creating  increasingly  better  human  rights  outcomes   for  online  platforms  by  performing  and  sharing  ongoing,  comparative  research.

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Civil  society  can  also  work  to  ensure  that  all  relevant  stakeholders  have  a  voice  in  both  the   creation   and   revision   of   policies   that   affect   online   intermediaries.   In   the   context   of   corporate  policy  making,  civil  society  can  use  strategies  from  activist  investing  to  encourage   investors   to   make   the   human   rights   and   freedom   of   expression   policies   of   Internet   companies’  part  of  the  calculus  that  investors  use  to  decide  where  to  place  their  money.    

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There   is   also   a   recently-­‐formed   Dynamic   Coalition   on   Platform   Responsibility,   which   emphasizes  the  concept  of  “platform  responsibility”  to  stimulate  behavior  in  line  with  the   principles  laid  out  by  the  UN  Guiding  Principles  on  Business  and  Human  Rights,  endorsed   by  the  UN  Human  Rights  Council,  which  recognize  the  complementary,  yet  different,  roles  of   States   and   companies   in   relation   to   the   validity   of   human   rights,   focusing   on   the   responsibility   of   private   corporations   to   respect   human   rights   and   to   grant   an   effective   grievance  mechanism.  The  coalition’s  website  states: The  ability  of  users  to  recognize  and  reward  this  type  of  behaviour  has  the  potential  to   generate   a   virtuous   circle,   whereby   consumer   demand   drives   the   market   towards   human   rights-­‐compliant   solutions.   Accordingly,   the   utilisation   of   model   contractual-­‐ provisions   may   prove   instrumental   to   foster   trust   in   online   services   for   content   production,   use   and   dissemination,   allowing   platform-­‐users   to   directly   identify   those   platforms  that  ensure  the  respect  of  their  rights  in  a  responsible  manner.108

107

See  Bertelsmann  Foundation,  “Self-­‐regulation  of  Internet  Content,”  1999,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   108 See  Dynamic  Coalition  on  Platform  Responsibility,  accessed  March  16,  2015.  

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On  the  intermediaries  side,  there  is  also  the  Global  Network  Initiative  (GNI),  which  has  the   expressed   purpose   of   protecting   and   advancing   freedom   of   expression   and   privacy   in   information   and   communication   technologies,   and   seeks   to   hold   members   accountable   to   human-­‐rights   based   standards   through   independent   assessment109   The   UNESCO   report   points  out: Members  of  the  Global  Network  Initiative,  specifically  commit  to  “respect  and  protect   the   freedom   of   expression   of   their   users”   in   the   course   of   responding   to   government   requests   to   remove   content   or   hand   over   user   data.   They   also   commit   to   be   held   accountable   to   this   commitment.   There   are   two   components   of   public   accountability   for  GNI  members:  “independent  assessment  and  evaluation”  of  whether  the  companies   are  upholding  their  commitment  to  the  GNI  principles,  and  also  “transparency  with  the   public.”  Two  years  after  the  GNI’s  official  launch  with  three  company  members  (Google,   Microsoft,   and   Yahoo),   the   practice   of   what   has   come   to   be   called   “transparency   reporting”  began  to  emerge.110

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Governments   should   not   legally   restrict   intermediaries   from   making   public   content   restriction   requests   that   have   been   issued   by   the   government.   Government   should   also   make   such   requests   available   to   the   public,   ideally   on   a   pro-­‐active   basis.   At   a   minimum,   citizens   should   have   the   right   to   request   copies   of   content   orders   from   the   government   and   access  to  information  legislation  could  provide  a  legal  basis  for  access  to  such  information.   For   example   in   India   under   the   Right   to   Information   legislation   citizens   can   seek   information  from  the  government  on  content  restriction  orders.111      

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Principle  VI.  The  development  of  intermediary  liability  policies  should  be  participatory   and  inclusive  

D

To   be   effective,   laws   and   policies   should   be   created   through   a   multi-­‐stakeholder   consultation  process  that  gives  voice  to  the  communities  most  at  risk  of  being  targeted  for   the   information   they   share   online.   Given   the   border-­‐crossing   nature   of   intermediary   communications,   it   is   important   that   such   consultation   takes   place   not   only   domestically,   but  also  at  a  global  level.  Bodies  such  as  the  Internet  Governance  Forum  may  be  leveraged   for  this  purpose.   A  relevant  guiding  principle  for  companies  belonging  to  the  Global  Network  Initiative  states   “While   infringement   on   freedom   of   expression   and   privacy   are   not   new   concerns,   the   violation  of  these  rights  in  the  context  of  the  growing  use  of  ICT  is  new,  global,  complex  and   109

See  Global  Network  Initiative,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   UNESCO  report,  p.123. 111  See  Pahwa,  Nikhil,  “Our  Right  To  Information  Request  On  India’s  Order  To  Block  245  Web  Pages,”   Medianama,  August  21,  2012,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   110

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constantly  evolving.    For  this  reason,  shared  learning,  public  policy  engagement  and  other   multi-­‐stakeholder   collaboration   will   advance   these   Principles   and   the   enjoyment   of   these   rights.” VI.a.  Governments  and  intermediaries  should  give  all  those  affected,  including  user  and  non-­‐user   citizens,  a  way  to  provide  input  on  the  development  and  revision  of  intermediary  liability  and   content  management  policies.  

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Governments   should   ensure   that   all   private   citizens   are   given   the   right   and   equal   opportunity     to   provide   feedback   on   the   balancing   between   their   human   rights   and   other   public   interests   that   arise   in   developing   intermediary   liability   public   policy.   Denying   Internet   users   a   voice   in   the   policymaking   processes   that   determine   their   rights   undermines  government  credibility  and  negatively  influences  users’  ability  to  freely  share   information   online.   As   such,   it   is   good   practice   for   governments   to   consult,   online   and   face-­‐ to-­‐face,  on  proposed  laws  that  affect  intermediaries  giving  users  the  opportunity  to  provide   input. As   simply   expressed   in   the   NETmundial   Multistakeholder   Statement.   “Anyone   affected   by   an   Internet   governance   process   should   be   able   to   participate   in   that   process.”112   This   requires  governments  to: Provide   citizens   with   a   mechanism   for   submitting   feedback   to   any   legislative   process  regarding  content  restriction.  

2.

This  mechanism  must  be  accessible  (ie  in  the  appropriate  language,  through  an   easy  to  use  interface,  widely  publicized).  

3.

It   is   the   responsibility   of   the   government   to   effectively   demonstrate   that   feedback  submitted  by  citizens  is  equitably  considered  and  deliberated  upon.  

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1.

An   example   of   something   like   this   in   practice   was   the   online   process   by   which   Brazil’s   Marco   Civil   was   collaboratively   developed,   in   an   interactive   process   that   incorporated   feedback  from  stakeholders  before  the  law  was  finalized.113 Aside   from   feedback   on   laws,   on   a   more   granular   level,   the   government   can   also   solicit   feedback  on  particular  government  content  orders.  This  could  for  example  be  done  through   a   webform   hosted   on   the   same   webpage   where   that   government’s   transparency   report   is   hosted.

112

 NETmundial  Multistakeholder  Statement.  Supra.  See  iobservatório  da  internet.br,  “The  Internet  Policy  Report,  Brazil  2011,”  Section  2.1,  p.  20-­‐23,  accessed   March  16,  2015.   113

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Further,   self   regulatory   and   co-­‐regulatory   agreements   reached   by   governments   and   industry   should   not   be   insulated   from   public   feedback   and   review.   Examples   include   the   Internet   Watch   Foundation   (IWF)   in   the   UK,114   safernet   in   Brazil,115   the   new   UK   “adult   content”  filtering  scheme,116  Project  Sunblock,117  etc. The   principle   of   participatory   policy   making   should   apply   not   only   to   laws   and   government   policies,  but  and  as  matter  of  good  practice,  they  should  also  extend  to  external  policies  of   private   intermediaries.   Whilst   this   does   not   mean   that   external   stakeholders   will   be   empowered   to   veto   corporations’   internal   policies,   there   are   precedents   amongst   high-­‐ profile   intermediaries,   such   as   Facebook   and   Livejournal,   in   at   least   consulting   with   their   communities  before  making  changes  on  content  policies  that  will  affect  the  free  expression   interests  of  users  at  large.118  

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Further,   both   companies   and   governments   should   embed   an   “outreach   to   at-­‐risk   communities”   step   into   both   legislative   and   policymaking   processes   to   be   especially   sure   that  their  voices  are  heard.   VI.b.    Governments  and  intermediaries  should  conduct  and  publish  human  rights  and  regulatory   impact  assessments  before  instituting  new  intermediary  liability  and  content  management   policies.  

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A

Informed   policymaking   benefits   from   conducting   human   rights   and   regulatory   impact   assessments  before  laws  or  intermediary  policies  are  finalized,  that  consider  the  impact  of   the   proposed   law   or   policy   on   various   communities   from   a   human   rights   perspective   (inclusive   of   gender,   sexuality,   sexual   preference,   ethnicity,   religion,   and   freedom   of   expression),   and   in   terms   of   competition   and   consumer   protection   impacts.119   Such   assessments   can   investigate   the   consistency   of   the   proposed   laws   and   policies   with   international   human   rights   standards,   as   well   as,   more   broadly,   how   they   will   affect   innovation  and  competition  in  the  marketplace.   At  the  same  time,  we  should  also  recognize  the  limits  of  the  exercise,  as  it  may  be  difficult   for   intermediary   policies   to   reconcile   differences   between   user   communities   with  

114

See  Internet  Watch  Foundation,  UK,  accessed  March  16,  2015.    See  SaferNet,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   116  See  House  of  Lords  UK,  “Notes  on  the  Online  Safety  Bill  as  introduced  in  the  House  of  Lords  on  10th  June   2014,”  accessed  March  16,  2015.     117 See  Project  Sunblock,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   118  The  importance  of  intermediaries  formulating  policies  in  consultation  with  multiple  stakeholders  as  a   means  towards  protecting  users  freedom  of  expression  has  been  stressed  and  explored  through  the  Ranking   Digital  Rights  project,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   119    UNESCO  Report,  p.  121. 115

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conflicting   lawful   interests   (such   as   those   whose   religious   observance   conflicts   with   others’   freedom  of  expression),  and  being  too  specific  may  favor  one  group  over  another. Similarly   the   expectation   that   an   impact   assessment   should   be   carried   out   cannot   be   extended   to   all   intermediaries   regardless   of   scale.   However,   we   can   expect   this   of   large   intermediaries  whose  platforms  raise  to  the  level  of  semi-­‐public  fora  where  people  engage   in  public  discourse,  and  where  the  proposed  policy  change  would  affect  or  manipulate  this   discourse.  Facebook’s  experimentation   on   the   algorithms   that   determine   content   displayed   in  users’  feeds  may  be  a  case  in  point.120   VI.c.    When  new  intermediary  liability  rules  are  introduced,  they  should  require  review  after  a  defined   period   (eg.,   five   years),   incorporate   mechanisms   for   the   collection   of   evidence   about   their   impacts,  and  make  provision  for  an  independent  review  of  their  costs,  demonstrable  benefits  and   impact  on  human  rights.  

FT

This   principle,   calling   for   the   review   of   intermediary   liability   policies   following   their   introduction,  is  the  natural  counterpart  to  the  preceding  principle  that  calls  for  an  impact   assessment  to  be  conducted  ahead  of  their  introduction.

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A

There  have  been  cases  where  intermediaries  have  made  ill-­‐informed  decisions  on  content   issues,   and   have   had   to   backtrack   only   after   rolling   these   out   after   receiving   negative   feedback   from   users.   For   example,   in   2007   Livejournal   deleted   some   500   blogs   from   its   website   in   a   purge   on   content   seen   as   infringing   its   policies,   but   reversed   this   decision   in   the  wake  of  community  outrage.121  Another  example  is  that  of  YouTube  has  amending  their   form   used   to   resolve   copyright   disputes   after   the   operators   of   a   German   web   channel   received  death  threats.122  It  is  as  much  for  the  benefit  of  intermediaries  as  that  of  users  to   expose  and  address  these  problems  early.  

D

Exactly   the   same   circumstance   has   affected   governments   enacting   new   Internet-­‐related   laws   without   adequate   community   consultation.   The   recent   experience   of   Canada,   mentioned   above,   whereby   rights-­‐holders   have   been   sending   misleading   notices   of   infringement  under  the  notice  and  notice  regime,  provides  a  good  example.123  The  review  of   such  laws  will  ensure  that  such  unforeseen  impacts  are  redressed  in  a  timely  fashion.

120

 See  Albergotti,  Reed,  “Facebook  Experiments  Had  Few  Limits,”  The  Wall  Street  Journal,  July  2,  2014,   accessed  March  16,  2015.   121 See  McCullagh,  Declan,  “Mass  deletion  sparks  LIveJournal  revolt,”  May  30,  2007,  accessed  March  16,  2015.   122 See  Salon,  “YouTube  amends  copyright  form  after  German  dispute,”  November  7,  2014,  accessed  March  16,   2015.   123  Geist,  Michael.  2015.  Supra.

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The Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability Background Paper

The  Manila  Principles  on   Intermediary  Liability   Background  Paper Version  0.99,  22  March  2015   Table  of  Contents   FT Preface  ...

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