[IRP] FW: Invitation 7 December - Self-regulation: Should online companies police the internet?

Andrew Rens andrewrens
Tue Dec 6 17:56:48 EET 2011

In my view the issue of one of governance.

"Self regulation" is often code for no regulation, multinational
corporations doing as they please. That is obviously undesirable. Neither
is government trying to micro-manage uses of technology that it cannot
predict. Also undesirable is the imposition on

I'd be cautious about giving corporations an opt out card to say that they
having nothing to do with human rights. While corporations do have
responsibility in respect of human rights I'd suggest that enlisting them
as proxies for the State is evidently undemocratic. Ironically Internet
service providers are being required to police conduct at the behest of a
state that is itself captured by other corporate interests.Ultimately this
is about corporate interests seeking to use state power to secure its

I'd suggest that issue should be reframed as an issue of governance in
which there are multiple stakeholders, and in which civil society should be
participate directly rather than through the attenuated mechanisms of
representative democracy.
Special attention should be paid to intermediary institutions such as
ICANN, and standards bodies  and their potential as sites for democratic

Special attention should also be paid to the entire political economy,
including how the current agenda of governments to control the Internet has
been formed.


On 6 December 2011 09:49, anja <anja at cis-india.org> wrote:

> **
> Dear all,
> Just to add a clarification to what is happening in India: in April 2011,
> a set of rules on intermediary due dilligence were issued by the government
> that made it obligatory for intermediaries to respond within 36 hours to
> any complaint regarding content they had received under the rules on
> grounds of the content being "disparaging", "grossly harmful", "ethnically
> objectionable", and a whole other range of equally vague terms that should
> not have any space in law. The current request of the minister, however,
> adds a whole new layer to the kind of censorship intermediaries would be
> expected to do, as he is requesting them to prescreen content. Complaints
> aren't even necessary anymore.
> Clearly the people are not agreeing: among the top ten trending hash tags
> on Twitter in India today were: Kapil Sibal; #IdiotKapilSibal; #censorship;
> Free Speech; Freedom of Speech.
> Best wishes,
> Anja
> On Tue, 06 Dec 2011 16:06:09 +0200, Anriette Esterhuysen wrote:
> It has been posted previously but Rebecca McKinnon's TED talk is good on
> this thread if I remember correctly.
> http://www.ted.com/talks/rebecca_mackinnon_let_s_take_back_the_internet.htmlI agree with Dixie - the boundaries between self-regulation and
> legislation is very thorny... and filled with pitfalls.
> Companies cannot, and should not need to be, the arbiters or protectors
> of our human rights. Great if they are progressive and pro-rights, but
> individuals should not have to rely on corporate goodwill or values
> which could change as a result of changes in leadership, policy, or
> pressure from governments.
> I am not saying that companies are not important players .. they are,
> and can play a positive role.
> Self-regulation and progressive company policy can be very useful. If
> practised in ways that maximises expression it can strengthen freedoms
> in cases where there are gaps in the protection of fundamental rights in
> national legislation.
> Corporate voices can also be powerful in convincing governments to
> protect fundamental freedoms...
> but ultimately the protection of free nline expression and association
> needs to be legislated and due process should be followed when any
> restrictions are applied.
> Anriette
> On 06/12/11 15:39, Allon Bar wrote:
> In that light, the messages from India are rather disconcerting: *"The
> Indian government has asked Internet companies and social media sites like
> Facebook to prescreen user content from India and to remove disparaging,
> inflammatory or defamatory content before it goes online, three executives
> in the information technology industry say." *
> http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/05/india-asks-google-facebook-others-to-screen-user-content/See also "Kapil Sibal's web monitoring plan: Google reacts, says company
> follows laws on illegal content" in the /India Times/.
> http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/kapil-sibals-web-monitoring-plan-google-reacts-says-company-follows-laws-on-illegal-content/articleshow/11007670.cmsOn
> 12/6/11 4:06 PM, Dixie Hawtin wrote:
> Yes, the more I think about it the more convinced I am that the boundaries
> between government responsibility and self-regulation by companies is one
> of the thorniest topics we need to address and become coherent on from a
> human rights perspective - hopefully this meeting will provide a good
> baseline of ideas! I also hope to follow remotely, it will be live streamed
> here:
> http://www.alde.eu/event-seminar/events-details/article/self-regulation-37751/Very best, Dixie
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Andrew Rens

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