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Administrative Authorities and Content Removal

May 14, 2018

A central question shaping the debate on intermediary liability and freedom of expression online concerns which decision-makers are empowered to impose restrictions on the flow of information on the Internet. While international human rights authorities and public interest organizations advocate for a greater role of judicial authorities, pressures have been observed in the direction of both privatized and administrative enforcement. In recent years, administrative agencies have assumed increasing importance as arbiters of online expression.

Administrative enforcement of speech restrictions has been criticized for allowing the curtailment of rights before (or without) any judicial review. Despite the criticism around this kind of measure, some countries have been debating and implementing policies delegating considerable power to administrative agencies. Agencies may have the authority to compel platforms to disconnect repeat infringers (see the South Korean Copyright Act), block specific websites in order to protect copyright (as with AGCOM, in Italy), block applications and websites to ensure the enforcement of other domestic legislation (as with Roskonomazor, in Russia, or TIB in Turkey). Agencies may also fine platforms for non-compliance, as can occur in the context of the Right to Be Forgotten.

As these policies may impact both freedom of expression online and other fundamental rights, international human rights bodies and civil society groups have repeatedly urged that any limitation on the access to internet content be ordered only by a competent, independent, and impartial court with due process guarantees. They argue that courts are in the best position assess limitations on freedom of expression and other rights, and to offer the procedural safeguards necessary to prevent abuse.

Below, you can find the entries associated with administrative authorities in the WILMap database. Please let us know if you identify any important development that should be included.

Other Resources

For more information on human rights literature about the role of judicial authorities and independent bodies in the limitation of freedom of expression rights, check the report of the Organization of American States' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression on the Standards for a Free, Open and Inclusive Internet and the May 2011 report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Another key resource is the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability, a document built upon the international human rights resources and standards, and endorsed by experts and public interest organizations around the globe.

Entries

Featured

Administrative Decision

Procedimiento Sancionador PS/00149/2016. Resolución R/02232/2016

In this administrative proceeding within the Spanish DPA (AEPD - Agencia Española de Protección de Datos), Google was fined in 150,000 Euros for communicating webmasters about the delisting of content based on data protection requests (Right to be Forgotten requests, based on the European and Spanish rights to cancellation and opposition). Building upon the guidelines issued by the Article 29 Working Party, the agency decided that a search engine does not have the legal obligation to inform webmasters and that the communication could render the request to be delisted inefficient, by allowing, among other things, the publisher to change the URL delisted or to create lists of URLs subject to de-indexed. When considering that Google would only inform that a URL was delisted based on the European data protection...
Administrative Decision

Deliberation No. 2016-054, CNIL

According to the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL), by the date of this deliberation Google has processed approximately 80,000 requests of French citizens to delist specific results from its search engine (right to be forgotten requests). The decision affirms the company delisted 51,5% of the requests. To address the complaints of French citizens who had their requests refused, CNIL launched an investigation on the company. Following the assessment of the complaints, CNIL requested Google to delist several results. According to the authority, "it was expressly requested that the delisting should be effective on whole search engine, irrespective of the extension used (.fr; .uk; .com ...). As the delistings were carried out in European extensions, and not in extensions such as google.com or other non-European...
Legislation

Copyright Act, last amended by Act No. 12137

( 1 ) Article 102 provides safe harbor for intermediaries from third party copyright infringement. The provision was amended twice in 2011 first to reflect the Korea-EU FTA and then the Korea-US FTA. EU Directive 2000/31/EC Section 4 “Liability of intermediary service providers” was almost exactly reproduced verbatim in the Intellectual Property chapter of the Korea-EU FTA, and the intellectual property chapter of the Korea-US FTA adopted the structure of DMCA safe harbor provisions. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the structure of Article 102 is very similar to that of EU Directive 2000/31/EC and DMCA. Paragraph ( 1 ) sets out specific conditions necessary for safe harbor for different types of Online Service Providers (OSPs). It classifies OSPs into four classes: mere conduits (subparagraph 1), caching...
Institution (Description)

Regulatory Entity: Communication Authority (AGCOM)

The AGCOM Regulations regarding Online Copyright Enforcement vested the Italian Communication Authority (AGCOM) with new administrative copyright enforcement powers; copyright enforcement would be done through administrative procedures which would not target direct infringers but rather Internet Service Providers (ISPs). For a summary in English, see CIS blog post 1 ; see also CIS blog posts 2 and 3 .

Africa

Regulation

ANRT Decision No. 12-14 concerning the modalities of administrative, technical and commercial management of domain names (.ma),

According too Article 14 of ANRT Decision No. 12-14, the registrar has the obligation to inform the registrant about the provisions of the present Decision, the alternative dispute resolution procedure for ‘.ma’ and also to make sure that the registrant comply with all the requirements set by the present Decision. The registrant is also in charge of the update of the Whois information contained in the register for ‘.ma’.
Regulation

Information and Communications (electronic Certification and Domain Name Administration) Regulations

( 1 ) Section 24-25 establishes the requirement of license to operate or provide telecommunication systems and services; under the Unified Licencing Framework (ULF) operated by the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), there are 3 categories of internet intermediaries, which need to be licensed: ( i ) Network Facilities Provider (NFP), owning and operating any form of communications infrastructure (based on satellite, terrestrial, mobile or fixed); ( ii ) Applications Service Provider (ASP), providing all forms of services to end users using the network services of a facilities provider; ( iii ) Contents Services Provider (CSP), providing contents services such as broadcast (TV& Radio) material, and other information services and data processing services, etc. ( 2 ) Section 27 empowers the Miniter in charge of...
Regulation

Regulatory Entity: National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT)

The ANRT is the public body in charge of the control and regulation of the telecommunications sector. It was created under Law No. 24-96 (see above). ANRT has the power of legal regulation of the telecommunications sector. It is responsible for developing and enforcing technical standards of the telecommunications sector. Also, ANTR is the body in charge of enforcing blocking orders and content removals. Finally, ANRT plays an economic role in the sense that it supports fair competition of the operators in the telecommunications sector in Morocco.

Asia

Regulation

Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Service 2017

Revision of the Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Services 2005
Chapter I: General Provisions Article 1: In order to strengthen Internet information content management and stimulate the healthy and orderly development of Internet news information services, on the basis of the “ Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China ”, the “ Administrative Measures of Internet Information Services ”, and the “ Notice of the State Council on Charging the Cyberspace Administration of China with the Content Management of Information on the Internet ”, these Regulations are formulated. Article 2: These Regulations apply to the provision of Internet news information services within the territory of the People’s Republic of China News information as mentioned in these Regulations includes reporting and comments on politics, economic, military matters, foreign affairs and other such social...
Institution (Description)

Regulatory Entity: Supreme Council of Cyberspace

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace (SCC) was established by the order of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As stated in the SCC's charter , the body is tasked with writing the policies that govern the usage of internet exchange points (IXPs) and content for filtering.
Regulation

Regulation No. RG-28363, July 24, 2012, Regulation Concerning the Processing of Personal Data and the Protection of Privacy in the Electronic Communications Sector

The purpose of this Regulation, which was issued on the basis of Articles 4, 6, 12 and 51 of Electronic Communications Law Nr. 5809, is to set out the procedures and principles to be followed by operators performing activity in the electronic communications sector for the processing and retention of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector. Retention of data related to the content of communication is not included in the scope of this Regulation.
Regulation

Regulation No. RG-26716

Regulation on the Principles and Procedures of Regulating the Publications on the Internet
Regulation

Regulation No. RG-26680

Regulation No. RG-26680, October 24, 2007, Regulation on the Procedures and Principles for Granting Operating Certificate to Access Providers and Hosting Providers by the Telecommunication Authority (English Version)
Regulation

By-Law No. RG- 25692

By-law on the Procedures and Principles Pertaining to the Implementation of Electronic Signature Law (English Version)
Administrative Decision

Intellectual Property Court, Year 2010, Sin-Tsu-Shan-Yi-Tsu No. 52, Criminal Case (智慧財產法院99年度刑智上易字第52號刑事判決)

After the enactment of inducement liability of copyright infringement, one important cases of peer-to-peer file sharing services was decided on the ground of inducement liability. This case involved a program called Foxy, which was very popular in Taiwan for few years. The defendant was found guilty in co-perpetration of joint copyright infringement of article 92 and the inducement of copyright infringement of paragraph 4, article 93 of Taiwan’s Copyright Act.
Administrative Decision

Intellectual Property Court, Year 2010, Sin-Tsu-Shan-Yi-Tsu No. 59, Criminal Case (智慧財產法院99年度刑智上易字第59號刑事判決)

Another case of peer-to-peer file sharing services involving a less known program called Kupeer was also decided on the ground of inducement liability. The defendant was found guilty in co-perpetration of joint copyright infringement of article 92 and the inducement of copyright infringement of paragraph 4, article 93 of Taiwan’s Copyright Act.
Administrative Decision

Intellectual Property Court, Year 2010, Xing-Zhi-Shang-Geng-(II), NO.24, Criminal Case [智慧財產法院99年度刑智上更(二)第24號刑事判決]

In contrast to Kuro, another peer-to-peer file sharing services, ezPeer was initially found neither guilty in joint criminal enterprise liability nor aiding criminal liability by Taiwan Shilin District Court in 2005. The case was appealed to the Taiwan Superior Court. It was later twice remanded to the Intellectual Property Court by the Supreme Court. In the end, Intellectual Property Court found the defendant was guilty in joint enterprise criminal liability in 2011. See Taiwan Shilin District Court, Year 2003, Su-Zi No. 728, Criminal Case (臺灣士林地方法院 92 年度訴字第 728 號刑事判決);Taiwan Superior Court, Year 2005, Shang-Su-Zi No.3195, Criminal Case (臺灣高等法院 94 年度上訴字第 3195 號刑事判決) ; Supreme Court, Year 2009, Tai-Shang-Zi No.113, Criminal Case (最高法院 98 年度台上字第 1132 號刑事判決);Intellectual Property Court, Year 2009, Xing-Zhi-Shang-Geng-Zi...
Administrative Decision

Intellectual Property Court, Year 2009, Xing-Zhi-Shang-Geng-Zi No. 48, Criminal Case (智慧財產法院 98 年度刑智上更字第 48 號刑事判決)

Prior to the enactment of inducement liability of copyright infringement in 2007, a peer-to-peer file sharing service called Kuro was found guilty in joint criminal enterprise liability by Taiwan Taipei District Court in 2005, which was the first criminal ruling against peer-to-peer file sharing services in the world. The case was appealed to the Taiwan Superior Court. It was later remanded to the Intellectual Property Court by the Supreme Court. The Intellectual Property Court found the defendant was guilty in joint criminal enterprise liability. See Taiwan Taipei District Court, Year 2003, Su-Zi No. 2146, Criminal Case (臺灣臺北地方法院 92 年度訴字第 2146 號刑事判決); Taiwan Superior Court, Year 2005, Zhu-Shang-Su-Zi No.5, Criminal Case (臺灣高等法院 94 年度矚上訴字第 5 號刑事判決); Supreme Court, Year 2009, Tai-Shang-Zi No.6117, Criminal Case (最高法院 98...
Regulation

Regulation on Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information, State Council Order No. 468, May 18, 2006, amended in accordance with the Decision of the State Council on Amending the Regulation on Protection of the Right to Network Dissemination of Information on January 30, 2013`

Clarifying the "Fair Use" Exception under the PRC Copyright Law (article 6), standards of network dissemination of information including how to address a potential violation. Establishing a more stringent standard for continued violators including civil and criminal liabilities for illegal network distributions and cyber equipment associated with such distributions/disseminations.
Regulation

Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Strengthening the Protection of Online Information, December 28, 2012 [English Version]

Imposing further regulations on ISPs and business enterprises, and non-profits to handle electronic personal information including: ( 1 ) stating explicitly the purpose, means and scope of such personal information collection and usage, ( 2 ) publicizing widely relevant policies and obtain consent of such collection, ( 3 ) prohibiting disclosure, alteration, selling, or destruction of collected electronic personal information, ( 4 ) adopting technical and other necessary measures to ensure the safety of electronic personal information, and must promptly take remedial measures when such information is disclosed, damaged or lost, ( 5 ) promptly taking any remedial measures if anything of the above occurs, ( 6 ) and requiring ISPs to mandate users to furnish authentic identity information when providing access or...
Regulation

Administrative Measures on Internet Information Services, September 20, 2000

Requiring Internet information providers (ISPs) to obtain approval from the Ministry of Information Industry before creating any sort of joint venture with a foreign company and associated creation of any ISP services. ( Article 6-8 ). ISPs are also required to keep records of the log-on time of users, user’s accounts and the telephone number from which users dial in for 60 days and provide them to State authorities on demand.
Policy Document
Proposed Law

Internet Filtering Plan, 2009

Malaysia considered the establishment of an internet filter similar to the Green Dam project in China. Niluksi Koswanage, Malaysia Examines Internet Filter, Tougher Controls , Reuters, Aug. 6, 2009. Malaysia did not do it since it would hurt freedom and foreign direct investments. Razak Ahmad and Royce Cheah, Malaysia Backs off Internet Filter Plan , Reuters, Aug. 7, 2009. The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which issued the tender, said it was a study on Internet usage so as to boost Malaysian content on the Internet and that reports of a filter were “sensationalized”. But a copy of the tender documents, seen by Reuters, appeared to contradict that statement. Niluksi Koswanage and Razak Ahmad, Malaysia to Cancel Internet Filter , Reuters, Aug. 12, 2009.
Institution (Description)

Regulatory Entity: Committee for Determining Instances of Criminal Web Content

Under the Computer Crimes Law, the Committee for Determining Instances of Criminal Web Content (CDICWC) is the regulatory entity, which is entitled to issue orders against ISPs regarding the legality, blocking and removal of online content. The orders of the CDICWC do not involve judicial review and the ISPs must comply under severe penalties. The CDICWC is under the authority of the Supreme Court of Cyberspace.

Europe

Court Decision

Google Inc., no. 399922, Conseil d'Etat

This case refers to the geographical scope of delistings in "right to be forgotten" ( droit au déréférencement ) requests. Google filed a complaint on the Conseil d'Etat against the decision of CNIL to fine the company in the amount of 100,000 Euros for failing to comply with the commission letter of formal notice. On the letter, CNIL demanded Google to delist search results on all the extensions of domain name of its search engine (google.fr; google.uk; etc...). CNIL considered the measures took by the company insufficient to ensure the data protection rights of European citizens. In this decision, the Conseil d'Etat stayed the proceedings and referred three questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The first question is if a search engine, when implementing the ECJ's Google Spain decision, must delist the...
Court Decision

Mme C, M. F, M. H, M. D, F, Conseil d'Etat

With this decision, the Conseil d'Etat refers to the ECJ questions about the implementation of the "right to be forgotten", based on four requests refused by Google, brought to CNIL and refused by the Commission, and then brought by the claimants to the Conseil. The Conseil d'Etat seeks clarification on the interpretation of the Google Spain about the obligations of a search engine to delist search results pointing to web pages that contain sensistive data - as defined in the EU Directive 95/46/EU (the Data Protection Directive)
Administrative Decision

Procedimiento Sancionador PS/00149/2016. Resolución R/02232/2016

In this administrative proceeding within the Spanish DPA (AEPD - Agencia Española de Protección de Datos), Google was fined in 150,000 Euros for communicating webmasters about the delisting of content based on data protection requests (Right to be Forgotten requests, based on the European and Spanish rights to cancellation and opposition). Building upon the guidelines issued by the Article 29 Working Party, the agency decided that a search engine does not have the legal obligation to inform webmasters and that the communication could render the request to be delisted inefficient, by allowing, among other things, the publisher to change the URL delisted or to create lists of URLs subject to de-indexed. When considering that Google would only inform that a URL was delisted based on the European data protection...
Administrative Decision

Deliberation No. 2016-054, CNIL

According to the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL), by the date of this deliberation Google has processed approximately 80,000 requests of French citizens to delist specific results from its search engine (right to be forgotten requests). The decision affirms the company delisted 51,5% of the requests. To address the complaints of French citizens who had their requests refused, CNIL launched an investigation on the company. Following the assessment of the complaints, CNIL requested Google to delist several results. According to the authority, "it was expressly requested that the delisting should be effective on whole search engine, irrespective of the extension used (.fr; .uk; .com ...). As the delistings were carried out in European extensions, and not in extensions such as google.com or other non-European...
Administrative Decision

Privacy Authority ("Garante") Decision about the Publication on a Newspaper Bulletin Board of Personal Data concerning Heath, doc. web n. 1821322

The claimant asked the newspaper to remove the message herself posted on the board. She claimed she was not aware of the public nature of the board and she deemed her post reviling sensitive data about her health. The Garante intimated to the newspaper to remove the claimant post. The newspaper initially failed to remove the post which was later deleted after further requests. The newspaper was responsible for the payment of the proceeding costs (about 500 Euros)
Administrative Decision

Privacy Authority ("Garante") Decision about the Request of Deleting a “Tag” from a Facebook Picture, doc. web n. 1712776

The claimant requested to force Facebook to remove of a “tag” from a Facebook photo able to identify her and her sexual orientation. The Garante rejected the complaint because the law does not apply if (a) the profile data processing was carried out only for personal use (b) there is not “diffusion”: the profile was “closed” and therefore there was not diffusion to the public (c) the claimant can autonomously remove the tag.
Administrative Decision

Privacy Authority ("Garante") Decision about “The Right to be Forgotten”: Obsolete Information Found in Online Archives of Newspapers through Search Engines, doc. web n. 1583162, December 11, 2008

The claimant was seeking to remove an article concerning an investigation about him dated 1993. The claimant was later found innocent in connection with the investigation described in the article. The articles were still available online. The Privacy Authority rejected the complaint against Google for lack of jurisdiction because the “data processing” through cache copies does not take place in Italy nor in any European country.
Administrative Decision

Administrative decision from the National Authority of Communications (ANACOM), Nokia Portugal v. Verza Facility Management, Google and others

This administrative resolution ordered a host provider to remove the incriminated website from the network. The decision also required all network content aggregation providers (permitting a direct or indirect access to the incriminated website, and thus associated with illicit content) to disable access to the website. This ruling seems to cover, at least indirectly, hyperlink providers. This resolution, which is very brief, does not offer further details.
Administrative Decision

Competition Protection Commission, Net Info and others vs. Google Ireland and Google Inc., No. 395 (May 12, 2015)

( 1 ) The Bulgarian online media companies Net Info and V Box—Bulgaria's largest video sharing portal—filed a complaint with the Competition Protection Commission (CPC) against Google and its video portal YouTube. The plaintiff claimed that Google violated Articles 29 and 36, para.1 of the Law on Protection of Competition. Article 29 states that “Any action or omission when carrying out economic activity, which is contrary to good faith commercial practices and damages or may damage the interests of competitors shall be prohibited.” Article 36 (1) provides that “Carrying out unfair competition, aimed at soliciting clients, as a result of which existing agreements are terminated or breached, or entry into such agreements with competitors is prevented, shall be prohibited.”) ( 2 ) The complaint was prompted by the fact...

North America

Proposed Law

Consultation on "Right to Be Forgotten" Under Canadian Privacy Law

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada has released a draft report , proposing that Canada's existing law be interpreted in line with the Court of Justice of the European Union's Google Spain case. The draft report concludes that the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) establishes a right for individuals to require search engines to de-index results from search results for that person’s name if they link to information that is inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated. Search engines are to remove or demote search results identified by such individuals if appropriate, and the individuals may lodge complaints with the Commissioner for non-compliance. The proposal would be explicitly limited in geographic scope. It would require search engines to use geo-blocking to limit Canadians' access to the...
Administrative Decision

National Institute for the Access to Information (INAI), Carlos Sánchez de la Peña v. Google México, S. de R.L., PPD.0094/14

( 1 ) The Mexican National Institute for the Access to Information (INAI) ruled in favor of a transportation magnate, Carlos Sánchez de la Peña, who wanted three links removed from Google search results. The links contained negative comments about the business dealings of Mr. Sánchez’s family—including a government bailout of bad loans. The INAI heard the case after Google Mexico rejected a petition from Mr. Sánchez de la Peña to have the links removed. ( 2 ) In his request to INAI, Mr. Sánchez claimed that the three Google links distorted and decontextualized information about his activities as an entrepreneur. Mr. Sánchez de la Peña’s family has owned “Estrella Blanca” bus lines for generations. One of the links directed to an article about a lawsuit against Mr. Sánchez’s father, Salvador Sánchez Alcántara, by...

Oceania

Self-Regulation/Voluntary Agreement/Code of Conduct

Copyright Notice Scheme – Industry Code

Pending registration under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth)
An industry-negotiated graduated response Code was submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for registration as an industry code under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) on 8 April 2015. The Code introduces a Copyright Notice Scheme that requires Internet Service Providers to pass on warnings to residential fixed account holders who are alleged to have infringed copyright. The scheme consists of an escalating series of infringements notices. These notices include educational material designed to deter copyright infringing behaviour and educate consumers about available and lawful content alternatives. Upon receipt of a third and final notice within a 12-month period, account holders may challenge the validity of the allegations by having them independently reviewed by a panel. The Code...
Regulation

Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Regulations 2011

( 1 ) These regulations set out the matters that must be included in a " rights owner notice " to be sent from rights owners to IPAPs under Sections 122A to 122U of the Copyright Act 1994 (see below). Each rights owner notice must identify all the alleged infringements against the rights owner's copyright that occurred at a single IP address during a single day. These regulations also prescribe the information required in infringement notices (in addition to the requirements set out in the Copyright Act); and challenge notices (which are notices that an account holder may send to a rights owner, via an IPAP, to challenge an infringement notice). ( 2 ) The regulations prescribe other procedural matters including the fee an IPAP may charge a rights owner; the fee for application to the Copyright Tribunal; the method of...

South America

Administrative Decision

Plaintiff X v. Google

DPA Procedure (Expediente 012-2015-PTT)
This case in Peru is about reports associating the plaintiff to criminal procedures from which he has been acquitted. After an initial ruling of the Peruvian DPA (Dirección General de Protección de Datos Personales) determining Google Peru must generally delist all content associating the plaintiff to the news related to the criminal matters mentioned in the complaint. Google appealed within the DPA’s administrative procedure. The Peruvian DPA upheld its initial ruling , but indicated precisely the 16 URLs that should be removed by the search engine. In the decision, the DPA asserted that: Google Peru was under jurisdiction of the Peruvian Law, and therefore, the Peruvian DPA; By indexing search results based on a name query, Google Peru was processing data and should thus be considered a data controller in the terms...
Administrative Decision

Conatel, Administrative Procedure, October 10, 2014

The National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) ordered the blocking of Infobae website which operates in Argentina, arguing the dissemination of images of deputy Robert Serra who was murdered on October the 1st. The information was released through Conatel president, William Castillo: "Following instructions, due to serious violations of the laws of Venezuela, Conatel has ordered the blocking of the Infobae portal". The official did not specify what law and/or articles were violated nor if any legal proceedings would follow, but since his statement the site is inaccessible from Venezuela.
Administrative Decision

Conatel, Administrative Procedure

In March 2014, Conatel demanded that the ISPs block websites that illegally trade wildlife, basing this demand on a decision made by a court in Caracas. In spite of the queries made by some organizations and individuals, obtaining reliable information about this procedure has been not possible. The affected ISPs did not make any public statements.
Administrative Decision

Conatel, Administrative Procedure

Conatel opened administrative procedures against 8 ISPs. Those ISPs hosted information portals where the cost of the black market dollar was published (Venezuela has a foreign currency exchange control policy and this is forbidden by a special law). In spite of the queries made by some organizations and individuals, obtaining reliable information about this procedure has been not possible. The affected ISPs did not make any public statements.