|NGOs working on the project, from the report.|
This document offers recommendations on specific principles, standards and measures designed to establish forms of public co-regulation and public regulation that limit the power of major Internet platforms (such as social networks and search engines).
The purpose of this effort is to protect users' freedom of expression and guarantee a free and open Internet. Such intermediaries increasingly intervene in online content, through the adoption of terms of service and the application of business moderation policies. Such forms of private regulation affect public spaces which are vital for democratic deliberation and the exercise of fundamental rights.
The proposal seeks to align with international human rights standards and takes into account existing asymmetries related to large internet platforms without limiting innovation, competition or start-up development by small businesses or community, educational or nonprofit initiatives.The proposal seeks to create a self-regulatory framework that will avert public regulation of the internet. Needless to say, that will involve the voluntary collaboration of the major players, Facebook, Google, Twitter, et al. From what I saw of their recent participation in RightsCon in Tunisia, they are game.
I'm all for seeing where the self-regulatory approach takes us, but I worry about two problems. First, I'm not sure how long the big players will be willing to spend money on social responsibility while unscrupulous competitors bypass self-regulation and continue to reach audience across the technologically egalitarian internet. Second, as Facebook talks about setting up its own judicial system, I worry about whether we're creating corporate nation-states that will censor anti-majoritarian expression, e.g., perceived "hate speech," with the blessing of NGOs that purport to uphold human rights. But one step at a time....
Here via Observacom are links to the report in español, português, and English.