NGO proposes rights-respecting model for online content regulation by platforms

Author: Charles Bradley & Richard Wingfield, Global Partners Digital, Published on: 11 June 2018

"A Rights-Respecting Model of Online Content Regulation by Platforms," May 2018

In recent years, we have seen growing pressure on platforms from governments to ‘do more’ to remove unlawful and harmful content... So far, these calls have received a mixed response from platforms... There is a clear need for a model of content regulation by platforms which is both consistent with their responsibility to respect their users’ right to freedom of expression and which addresses the legitimate concerns of governments... This white paper seeks to propose such a model – one which respects human rights and meets the legitimate interest of governments in having unlawful and harmful content removed.

... [T]he problem is the current failure of governments and platforms to address the harms resulting from the existence of unlawful and harmful content online. These harms... include... emotional harm caused to an individual user through hate speech or abuse directed toward them; financial harm caused to holders of copyrighted material which is shared freely and unlawfully online; the sexual abuse suffered by children for the purposes of creating images and videos to be shared online; and the harm caused to individuals who become radicalised online... [O]ur proposed model... comprises three stages: the development of Terms of Service by platforms which set out the different forms of unlawful and harmful content which are restricted;... the implementation of these Terms of Service;... [and] the establishment of a grievance and remedial mechanism, allowing users to challenge decisions made to remove content (or suspend accounts), and to obtain an effective remedy where successful.

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