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Article

UNESCO publishes 26 principles to enhance the transparency of internet platform companies

"UNESCO initiates global dialogue to enhance the transparency of internet companies, with release of illustrative high-level principles", 3 May 2021

... The UNESCO issue brief, titled Letting the Sun Shine In: Transparency and Accountability in the Digital Age, presents enhancing transparency as a third way between state overregulation of content, which has led to disproportionate restrictions on human rights, and a laissez-faire approach that has failed to effectively address problematic content such as hate speech and disinformation.

The brief comes at a moment of heated debate on the power of internet companies in economic, social and political life, and their role in shaping the communications landscape.

Regulation for transparency requirements has gained steam in recent years, serving as what Anna Herold, of the European’s Commission DG-CONNECT described in the panel as, “the leitmotif of our policy and regulatory approach at the EU level”.

There has also been a growth in corporate transparency reports and several international and collaborative initiatives. Yet the new issue brief finds that these existing corporate transparency reports have gaps and cover different issues and in different ways, and that existing initiatives have so far lacked substantive impact and occurred in relative isolation of each other.

The brief underscores the value in UNESCO developing a common vision through the development of high-level illustrative principles focused on achieving outcome, which can be applied across industry regardless of size, business model and engineering of platform companies.

The 26 high-level principles included in the issue brief span across issues related to content and process, due diligence and redress, empowerment, commercial dimensions, personal data gathering and use, and data access.