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Policy Document

Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)6 - Council of Europe

Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on a “Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users”
This Recommendation focuses on how European countries should perform their obligations to protect citizens’ human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, in the context of the European Convention. Its central portion is a “Guide to Human Rights for Internet Users,” a public awareness document to educate European citizens about their rights online. The Council states that everyone whose rights and freedoms are restricted or violated on the Internet has the right to an effective remedy (Paragraph 99). They explain in detail that the remedies should be available, known, accessible, affordable and capable of providing appropriate redress (Paragraph 103) and that Internet users should be offered clear and transparent information regarding the means of redress available to them (Paragraph 105). The Council notes...
Policy Document

Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)4 - Council of Europe

Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Protection of Human Rights with Regard to Social Networking Services
In this document, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers highlights the public service value of social media and social networking sites, as well as their potential to pose a threat to human rights. According to the Committee, social networking sites inadequately protect children and young people from harmful content and lack privacy-friendly default settings. These social networking sites may provide a shelter to discriminatory practices by their weak/non-existent legal and procedural safeguards surrounding processes that lead to exclusion of users and due to the lack of transparency about personal data processing. Consequently, the Committee recommends that Council of Europe member states implement strategies for protecting human rights on social networking sites in accordance with the Convention for the...
Court Decision

Yildirim v. Turkey

Yildirim was an academic who hosted his work on Google’s Sites platform. Another unidentified person hosted anti-Ataturk content on Google Sites. The Turkish criminal court ordered the anti-Ataturk content blocked, and the Telecommunications Ministry indicated that national ISPs could do so only by blocking the entire Sites platform. The criminal court ordered this blocking to be carried out. Yildirim challenged this outcome before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Its analysis discussed: Internet-specific policy for free expression Balance of speech and other rights Need to avoid collateral impact on lawful speech, i.e. overblocking of other content on Google Sites Need for predictability for citizens subject to law It concluded that Turkey’s order violated Article 10 (Free Expression/Information right) of...
Policy Document

Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)3 - Council of Europe

Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Protection of Human Rights with Regard to Search Engines, Council of Europe
This Recommendation predates the Google Spain "Right to be Forgotten" case, and highlights key concerns regarding free expression on search engines. The Recommendation appears contradictory in many respects, so - while it is an important snapshot for what the Council was thinking prior to Google Spain - it should be treated with caution. The Recommendation acknowledges the significant role search engines play in collating and disseminating content on the internet. It advises states to allow search engines to perform this function. It notes, however, that search engines present risks to human rights by referencing content that is created by others. In particular, copyright and the right to a private life are cited as considerations for States in assessing “suitable regulatory frameworks” for giving protections to these...
Policy Document

Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)6 - Council of Europe

Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on Measures to Promote the Respect of Freedom of Expression and Information with Regard to Internet Filters.
This document is intended to provide Council of Europe member states with guidelines for their internet filtering policies. These guidelines are premised upon member states’ general commitment to free expression, as well as previous Committee recommendations related to internet content. These include the need for common standards and strategies for transparency in information services, self-regulation and neutral labeling of searchable online content, the need for appropriate filters for content inappropriate for children, and the obligation to safeguard user privacy. The document builds upon the idea that users must be aware and able to use internet filters, and to challenge filtering and blocking of content, to seek for clarifications and remedies. The document is mostly focused on filtering policies, although it...

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a comprehensive overhaul of EU Data Protection law, and replaces the 1995 Data Protection Directive. Because it is a Regulation rather than a Directive, it generally does not require implementing legislation in each Member State but instead applies directly as law. It will automatically go into effect across the EU on May 25 of 2018. The GDPR makes sweeping changes to Data Protection law, mostly in ways that do not implicate intermediaries’ liability for user content. Its provisions primarily instead govern companies’ collection and use of back-end stored data about user behavior. Compliance will affect user privacy notices, data logging and storage practices, user interfaces, internal record keeping, and contracting with vendors, among other things. One guide for in-house lawyers concludes that, under the...