Publication Date: May 2016

Source: UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression

This report marks the launch of a new project exploring issues at the intersection of State action, the private sector and freedom of expression in a digital age.

Online expression is increasingly mediated through private networks and platforms created, maintained and operated by a diverse range of companies commonly referred to as the Information and Communications Technology (“ICT”) sector. While the rapid growth of the ICT sector has led to unprecedented opportunities for access to information and communication, it has also triggered new forms of State regulation that threaten the very existence of a free and open Internet. The activities of the private sector also have an outsized impact on the freedom of expression of millions of users, given their role as gatekeepers of the global exchange of information and ideas.

This report provides an overview of the regulatory ecosystem that underpins the Internet and trends in State and private action that implicate freedom of expression online. Among the issues the Special Rapporteur discusses are the role of key participants in the ICT sector; the relevant human rights standards applicable to States and the private sector; and the legal and policy concerns that he will examine over the course of his mandate. While this report principally aims to map the private ICT sector, it also concludes with some general recommendations. 

This report benefited from extensive public input and consultation. As of the date of publication, 15 States and 15 organizations responded to the Special Rapporteur's call for submissions: country besed reports are available here .

Tags: Digital rights Freedom of expression

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