Manila – An international coalition launched the “Manila Principles on Internet Liability” today—a roadmap for the global community to protect online freedom of expression and innovation around the world.
“All communication across the Internet is facilitated by intermediaries: service providers, social networks, search engines, and more. These services are all routinely asked to take down content, and their policies for responding are often muddled, heavy-handed, or inconsistent. That results in censorship and the limiting of people’s rights,” said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Senior Global Policy Analyst Jeremy Malcolm, who helped spearhead the principles. “Our goal is to protect everyone’s freedom of expression with a framework of safeguards and best practices for responding to requests for content removal.”
EFF, Centre for Internet Society India, Article 19, and other global partners unveiled the principles today at RightsCon, a major international conference on the Internet and human rights held this week in Manila. The framework outlines clear, fair requirements for content removal requests and details how to minimize the damage a takedown can do. For example, if content is restricted because it’s unlawful in one country or region, then the scope of the restriction should be geographically limited as well. The principles also urge adoption of laws shielding intermediaries from liability for third-party content, which encourages the creation of platforms that allow for online discussion and debate about controversial issues.
“People ask for expression to be removed from the Internet for various reasons, good and bad, claiming the authority of myriad local and national laws. It’s easy for important, lawful content to get caught in the crossfire,” said Jyoti Panday from the Centre for Internet and Society India. “We hope these principles empower everyone—from governments, to intermediaries, to the public—to fight back when online expression is censored.”
The principles and supporting documents can be found online at https://www.manilaprinciples.org, where other organizations and members of the public can also express their own endorsement of the principles.