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.
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.