UNESCO launches new report in Internet freedom series
The report Fostering Freedom Online: the Role of Internet Intermediaries focuses on Internet service providers, search engines and social networking platforms. It examines how this recent phenomenon of Internet intermediaries impacts on freedom of expression and associated fundamental rights such as privacy.
The goal of this report is to shed light on how Internet intermediaries both foster and restrict freedom of expression across a range of jurisdictions, circumstances, technologies, and business models.
Based on three case studies across ten countries, the authors highlight challenges and opportunities for Internet intermediaries in respecting and protecting online freedom of expression.
Findings and recommendations
The research shows that Internet intermediaries are heavily influenced by states’ legal and policy environments, but do have leeway in many areas of policy and practice affecting online expression and privacy.
The findings also highlight the challenge presented by the situation that many state policies, laws, and regulations are – to varying degrees – poorly aligned with the duty to promote and protect intermediaries’ respect for freedom of expression.
The research also recommends specific ways that intermediaries and states can improve the respect for Internet users’ right to freedom of expression, through promoting adequate legal frameworks and policies consistent with international norms, multi-stakeholder policy development, transparency of governance, accountability in self-regulation, mechanisms for remedy, and public information and education.
About: The publication is a joint initiative by UNESCO, the Open Society Foundations, the Internet Society, and the Center for Global Communication Studies at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. The case study research, collaboratively delivered by 16 international researchers led by Ms Rebecca MacKinnon and Mr Allon Bar, as well as 14 members of the International Advisory Committee, covers three categories of intermediaries (ISP, search engines, social networks) and ten countries (China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Kenya, the US, the UK, Germany, Hungary and Russia).
BY: EVA HARRIE