EU Consultation on Online Platforms: Internet intermediaries must be protected

EU Consultation on Online Platforms: Internet intermediaries must be protected - Digital

Customers in a space-age internet cafe.

In December 2015, ARTICLE 19 responded to the EU consultation on “online platforms”. The consultation is part of the EU Digital Single Market Strategy, published in May 2015, in which the European Commission had announced that it would be comprehensively assess the role of online platforms.

The stated purpose of the consultation was to gather evidence and views on the regulatory environment for platforms, liability of intermediaries, data and cloud and collaborative economy. It covered the following areas: the social and economic role of online platforms; transparency e.g. in search results; terms of use; ratings and reviews; the use of information by platforms; the relation between platforms and their suppliers; the conditions of switching between comparable services offered by platforms; the role of online intermediaries including ways to tackle illegal content on the Internet.

In our response, ARTICLE 19 urges the Commission not to impose a ‘duty of care’ on Internet intermediaries that would have a devastating impact on the right to freedom of expression. Instead, we recommend that the Commission take heed of the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability, a civil society initiative endorsed by nearly 100 organisations worldwide, and over 200 individuals. In our view, respect for the rights to freedom of expression and privacy, transparency, due process and the rule of law must be at the heart of any intermediary liability regime.

Since December 2015, the Commission has published brief preliminary results and statistics of the consultation. The results already show a disparity of views in the proper approach to tacking ‘illegal’ content. ARTICLE 19 will be closely monitoring the final results of the consultation to be published in the spring 2016 and any next steps taken by the European Commission in this area.

Read the full submission here.