Who Has Your Back? Censorship Edition 2019

Research report

Website/link: https://www.eff.org/wp/who-has-your-back-2019

Website/link: Visit website

Published date: June 12, 2019

Author: Andrew Crocker, Gennie Gebhart, Aaron Mackey, Kurt Opsahl, Hayley Tsukayama, Jamie Lee Williams, and Jillian C. York

Country: United States of America (USA)

Subject tag: Government transparency | Privacy and data protection

Assesses companies on the following standards: government requests for takedowns based on claims of legal violations, for instance, in its transparency report. This should include, at a minimum, the information necessary to determine:
the number of requests received,
the country from which the request originated,
the number of requests acted upon and/or the number of posts removed or restricted or accounts suspended, and
for service providers reporting on multiple products/platforms, the product/platform associated with the requested content or account.
Takedown requests include requests to restrict public access to a post, including geographic limitation, and account suspensions that limit access to posts for a period of time… Records of content or account restrictions based upon identifiable government allegations of violations of the provider’s policies, such as Terms of Service or Community Standards, regardless of whether the request came through channels for government requests or through customer service channels. This includes government requests alleging facts that lead to a content or account restriction based on a provider’s policies.

The provider’s reporting should include, at a minimum, the information necessary to determine:

the number of requests received,
the country from which the request originated, and
the number of requests acted upon and/or the number of posts removed or restricted or the number of accounts suspended, and
for service providers reporting on multiple products/platforms, the product/platform associated with the requested content or account.
Reporting must distinguish legal takedown requests from platform policy takedown requests. Publicly commit to provide meaningful notice to users of every removal and suspension, unless prohibited by law, in very narrow and defined emergency situations,10 or if doing so would be futile or ineffective.11

For legal takedowns and suspensions, the notice must (1) identify the specific content that allegedly violates the law, and (2) inform the user that it was a legal takedown request. If the takedown is a “geoblock”—that is, a content restriction limited to the jurisdiction where the provider is legally required to restrict it—then the users must also be notified of the geographic scope of the takedown.

For policy takedowns and suspensions, this notice must (1) identify the specific content that allegedly violates a provider policy, and (2) include the specific provider policy the content allegedly violates. The service provider must publicly commit to provide users with an appeals process.

This appeals process must provide users with effective mechanisms to appeal all provider-policy based content and account restriction decisions, including during temporary suspensions. Upon a successful appeal, the account or material must be reinstated promptly. The provider must also regularly publish records of appeals and their aggregate outcomes, for instance in a transparency report. This should include, at a minimum, the information necessary to determine the total number of appeals filed. The service provider must publicly support the Santa Clara Principles.
[This entry was sourced with minor edits from the Carnegie Endowment’s Partnership for Countering Influence Operations and its baseline datasets initiative. You can find more information here: https://ceip.knack.com/pcio-baseline-datasets]