IGF 2010, 14-17 September 2010, Vilnius (Lithuania)

Internet intermediaries workshop: Call for greater transparency, legal certainty and due process

[15.09.2010] The workshop participants called for greater transparency, legal certainty and due process with regard to the liability for content by Internet intermediaries. During the discussion, they voiced their concern on the trend of imposing increasing liability on Internet intermediaries for the content that they host. They pointed out this may have a chilling effect on freedom of expression through making intermediaries reluctant to host user generated content.

Organised by Global Partners, Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the Council of Europe and other partners, this IGF workshop allowed participants to also review some positive developments against a disproportionate imposition of liability.

Representatives of intermediary companies expressed their acceptance of some form of responsibility, but they warned that they are not in a position to make judgments about balancing human rights that really belong in the courts. Many of them warned that a lack of clarity regarding legal liability of intermediaries also had a chilling effect because of companies´ fear of different or even arbitrary court rulings in different countries.

The ongoing work of the Council of Europe´s Media Division on a new notion of media - with a graduated approach of rights and responsibilities for all actors operating within the media system - was received with high attention.

There was general agreement that intermediaries as well as users have a responsibility to respect human rights, but that their respective roles, boundaries and degree of responsibilities need to be more clearly defined.