Intermediary Liability Resources

We bring you a list of intermediary resources as part of research on internet governance. This blog post will be updated on an ongoing basis.
  1. Shielding the Messengers: Protecting Platforms for Expression and Innovation. The Centre for Democracy and Technology. December 2012, available at: https://www.cdt.org/files/pdfs/CDT-Intermediary-Liability-2012.pdf: This paper analyses the impact that intermediary liability regimes have on freedom of expression, privacy, and innovation. In doing so, the paper highlights different models of intermediary liability regimes, reviews different technological means of restricting access to content, and provides recommendations for intermediary liability regimes and provides alternative ways of addressing illegal content online.
  2. Internet Intermediaries: Dilemma of Liability: Article 19. 2013, available at: http://www.article19.org/data/files/Intermediaries_ENGLISH.pdf:This Policy Document reviews different components of intermediary liability and highlights the challenges and risks that current models of liability have to online freedom of expression. Relying on international standards for freedom of expression and comparative law,  the document includes recommendations and alternative models that provide stronger protection for freedom of expression. The key recommendation in the document include: web hosting providers or hosts should be immune from liability to third party content if they have not modified  the content, privatised enforcement should not be a model and removal orders should come only from courts or adjudicatory bodies, the model of notice to notice should replace notice and takedown regimes, in cases of alleged serious criminality clear conditions should be in place and defined.
  3. Comparative Analysis of the National Approaches to the Liability of Internet Intermediaries: Prepared by Daniel Seng for WIPO, available at http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/copyright/en/doc/liability_of_internet_intermediaries.pdf:This Report reviews the intermediary liability regimes and associated laws in place across fifteen different contexts with a focus on civil copyright liability for internet intermediaries. The Report seeks to find similarities and differences across the regimes studied and highlight  principles and components in different that can be used in international treaties and instruments, upcoming policies, and court decisions.
  4. Freedom of Expression, Indirect Censorship, & Liability for Internet Intermediaries. The Electronic Frontier Foundation. February 2011, available at: http://infojustice.org/download/tpp/tpp-civil-society/EFF%20presentation%20ISPs%20and%20Freedom%20of%20Expression.pdf:This presentation was created for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Stakeholder Forum in Chile and highlights that for freedom of expression to be protected, clear legal protections for internet intermediaries are needed and advocates for a regime that provides blanket immunity to intermediaries or is based on judicial takedown notices.
  5. Study on the Liability of Internet Intermediaries. Contracted by the European Commission. 2007, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/e-commerce/docs/study/liability/final_report_en.pdf. This Report provides insight on the application of the intermediary liability sections of the EU e-commerce directive  and studies the impact of the regulations under the Directive on the functioning of intermediary information society services. To achieve this objective, the study identifies relavant case law across member states, calls out and evaluates developing trends across Member States, and draws conclusions.
  6. Internet Intermediary Liability: Identifying Best Practices for Africa. Nicolo Zingales for the Association for Progressive Communications,  available at: https://www.apc.org/en/system/files/APCInternetIntermediaryLiability_BestPracticesAfrica_20131125.pdf: This background paper seeks to identify challenges and opportunities in addressing intermediary liability for countries in the African Union and recommend safeguards that can be included in emerging intermediary liability regimes in the context of human rights. The paper also reviews different models of intermediary liability and discusses the limitations, scope, and modes of operation of each model.
  7. The Liability of Internet Intermediaries in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda: An uncertain terrain. Association for Progressive Communications. October 2012, available at: http://www.academia.edu/2484536/The_liability_of_internet_intermediaries_in_Nigeria_Kenya_South_Africa_and_Uganda_An_uncertain_terrain:This Report reviews intermediary liability in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda – providing background to the political context, relevant legislation, and present challenges . In doing so, the Report provides insight into how intermediary liability has changed in recent years in these contexts and explores past and present debates on intermediary liability. The Report concludes with recommendations for stakeholders affected by intermediary liability.
  8. The Fragmentation of intermediary liability in the UK. Daithi Mac Sithigh. 2013, available at: http://jiplp.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/7/521.full.pdf?keytype=ref&ijkey=zuL8aFSzKJqkozT. This article looks at the application of the Electronic Commerce Directive across Europe and argues that it is being intermixed and subsequently replaced with provisions from national legislation  and provisions of law from area specific legislation. Thus, the article argues that systems for intermediary liability are diving into multiple systems – for example for content related to copyright intermediaries are being placed with new responsibilities while for content related to defamation, there is a reducing in the liability that intermediaries are held to.
  9. Regimes of Legal Liability for Online Intermediaries: an Overview. OECD, available at:  http://www.oecd.org/sti/ieconomy/45509050.pdf. This article provides an overview of different intermediary liability regimes  including EU and US.
  10. Closing the Gap: Indian Online Intermediaries and a Liability System Not Yet Fit for Purpose. GNI. 2014, available at: http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/sites/default/files/Closing%20the%20Gap%20-%20Copenhagen%20Economics_March%202014_0.pdf.  This Report argues that the provisions of the Information Technology Act 2000 are not adequate to deal with ICT innovations , and argues that the current liability regime in India is hurting the Indian internet economy.
  11. Intermediary Liability in India. Centre for Internet and Society. 2011, available at: http://cis-india.org/internet-governance/intermediary-liability-in-india.pdf. This report reviews and ‘tests’  the effect of the Indian intermediary liability on freedom of expression. The report concludes that the present regime in India has a chilling effect on free expression and offers recommendations on how the Indian regime can be amended to protect this right.
  12. The Liability of Internet Service providers and the exercise of the freedom of expression in Latin America have been explored in detail through the course of this research paper by Claudio Ruiz Gallardo and J. Carlos Lara Galvez. The paper explores the efficacy and the implementation of proposals to put digital communication channels under the oversight of certain State sponsored institutions in varying degrees. The potential consequence of legal intervention in media and digital platforms, on the development of individual rights and freedoms has been addressed through the course of this study. The paper tries to arrive at relevant conclusions with respect to the enforcement of penalties that seek to redress the liability of communication intermediaries and the mechanism that may be used to oversee the balance between the interests at stake as well as take comparative experiences into account. The paper also analyses the liability of technical facilitators of communications while at the same time attempting to define a threshold beyond which the interference into the working of these intermediaries may constitute an offence of the infringement of the privacy of users. Ultimately, it aims to derive a balance between the necessity for intervention, the right of the users who communicate via the internet and interests of the economic actors who may be responsible for the service: http://www.palermo.edu/cele/pdf/english/Internet-Free-of-Censorship/02-Liability_Internet_Service_Providers_exercise_freedom_expression_Latin_America_Ruiz_Gallardo_Lara_Galvez.pdf

Click to read the newsletter from the Association of Progressive Communications. The summaries for the reports can be found below:

Internet Intermediaries: The Dilemma of Liability in Africa. APC News, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/node/19279/. This report summarizes the challenges facing internet content regulators in Africa, and the effects of these regulations on the state of the internet in Africa. Many African countries do not protect intermediaries from potential liability, so some intermediaries are too afraid to transmit or host content on the internet in those countries. The report calls for a universal rights protection for internet intermediaries.

APC’s Frequently Asked Questions on Internet Intermediary Liability:  APC, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/node/19291/. This report addresses common questions pertaining to internet intermediaries, which are entities which provide services that enable people to use the internet, from network providers to search engines to comments sections on blogs. Specifically, the report outlines different models of intermediary liability, defining two main models. The “Generalist” model intermediary liability is judged according to the general rules of civil and criminal law, while the “Safe Harbour” model protects intermediaries with a legal safe zone.

New Developments in South Africa: APC News, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/news/intermediary-liability-new-developments-south-afri. This interview with researchers Alex Comninos and Andrew Rens goes into detail about the challenges of intermediary in South Africa. The researchers discuss the balance that needs to be struck between insulating intermediaries from a fear of liability and protecting women’s rights in an environment that is having trouble dealing with violence against women. They also discuss South Africa’s three strikes policy for those who pirate material.

Preventing Hate Speech Online In Kenya: APCNews, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/news/intermediary-liability-preventing-hate-speech-onli. This interview with Grace Githaiga investigates the uncertain fate of internet intermediaries under Kenya’s new regime. The new government has mandated everyone to register their SIM cards, and indicated that it was monitoring text messages and flagging those that were deemed risky. This has led to a reduction in the amount of hate speech via text messages. Many intermediaries, such as newspaper comments sections, have established rules on how readers should post on their platforms. Githaiga goes on to discuss the issue of surveillance and the lack of a data protection law in Kenya, which she sees as the most pressing internet issue in Kenya.

New Laws in Uganda Make Internet Providers More Vulnerable to Liability and State Intervention: APCNews, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/news/new-laws-uganda-make-internet-providers-more-vulne. In an interview, Lilian Nalwoga discusses Uganda’s recent anti-pornography law that can send intermediaries to prison. The Anti-Pornography Act of 2014 criminalizes any sort of association with any form of pornography, and targets ISPs, content providers, and developers, making them liable for content that goes through their systems. This makes being an intermediary extremely risky in Uganda. The other issue with the law is a vague definition of pornography. Nalwoga also explains the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 bans any promotion or recognition of homosexual relations, and the monitoring technology the government is using to enforce these laws.

New Laws Affecting Intermediary Liability in Nigeria: APCNews, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/news/new-laws-affecting-intermediary-liability-nigeria. Gbenga Sesan, executive director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, expounds on the latest trends in Nigerian intermediary liability. The Nigerian Communications Commission has a new law that mandates ISPs store users data for at least here years, and wants to make content hosts responsible for what users do on their networks. Additionally, in Nigeria, internet users register with their real name and prove that you are the person who is registration. Sesan goes on to discuss the lack of safe harbor provisions for intermediaries and the remaining freedom of anonymity on social networks in Nigeria.

Internet Policies That Affect Africans: APC News, May 2014, available at: http://www.apc.org/en/news/intermediary-liability-internet-policies-affect-af. The Associsation for Progressive Communcations interviews researcher Nicolo Zingales about the trend among African governments establishing further regulations to control the flow of information on the internet and hold intermediaries liable for content they circulate. Zingales criticizes intermediary liability for “creating a system of adverse incentives for free speech.” He goes on to offer examples of intermediaries and explain the concept of “safe harbor” legislative frameworks. Asked to identify best and worst practices in Africa, he highlights South Africa’s safe harbor as a good practice, and mentions the registration of users via ID cards as a worst practice.

Towards Internet Intermediary Responsibility: Carly Nyst, November 2013, available at: http://www.genderit.org/feminist-talk/towards-internet-intermediary-responsibility. Nyst argues for a middle ground between competing goals in internet regulation in Africa. Achieving one goal, of protecting free speech through internet intermediaries seems at odds with the goal of protecting women’s rights and limiting hate speech, because one demands intermediaries be protected in a legal safe harbor and the other requires intermediaries be vigilant and police their content. Nyst’s solution is not intermediary liability but responsibility, a role defined by empowerment, and establishing an intermediary responsibility to promote positive gender attitudes.

Document Actions