Philippines: International Coalition Launches ‘Manila Principles’

Philippines: International Coalition Launches ‘Manila Principles’ - Digital

New ‘Best Practice’ Roadmap to Protect Rights and Promote Innovation

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.  But 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 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 minimise 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 online 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 intermediary companies, to the public—to fight back when expression is censored online.”

“At a time when Internet intermediaries are under increasing pressure to remove content, the Manila Principles provide a clear benchmark for policy makers, internet companies and civil society to push back against censorship online. The principles provide a roadmap of how to foster an environment in which freedom of expression can flourish.” said Gabrielle Guillemin, Senior Legal Officer at ARTICLE 19.

The principles and supporting documents can be found online where other organisations and members of the public can also express their own endorsement of the principles.

See ARTICLE 19’s policy on intermediary liability here.