Joint Statement from Civil Society to Technology Companies for Expanded Transparency Reports

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The undersigned organizations:
 Arlan, Kazakhstan
Bolo Bhi, Pakistan
Foundation for Media Alternatives, Philippines
Fundacion Karisma, Colombia
Social Media Exchange, Lebanon
Commend the recent efforts adopted by more than 43 companies to produce transparency reports that document the numbers of content removal and data requests by government and encourage all companies that collect user data to do the same.
However, without greater qualification of the data published and clarity on the process companies follow to determine whether a request is legal or is made by a legitimate legal entity, and how the determination to ultimately restrict content or hand over user data is made, the report’s usefulness to users, researchers, journalists, and advocates is limited, especially in the context of regimes that don’t adhere to due process and where it’s difficult to get this information any other way.

  1. Categorize types of requests, such as national security, cyber security, human trafficking, or restricted speech
  2. Cite the legal justification provided, including references to laws and articles cited as grounds. If a company claims to adhere to local laws, users should know which local laws are being invoked, both with regards to legal authority and grounds for the request
  3. State whether content removal was a result of copyright infringement or a matter of restricted speech, and if the latter, the grounds cited
  4. Name the government or law-enforcement agencies submitting the requests or restricting/validating them
  5. Disaggregate emergency and nonemergency requests and clarify the distinction between emergency and nonemergency requests
  6. Report on whether users are contacted when their account data is requested or content is restricted and what, if any, user input factors into the outcome
  7. Increase collaboration and note sharing between companies on how they deal and comply with requests from the same countries
  8. Act uniformly with different countries and attempt to standardize the manner in which government requests are entertained, in line with best practices and global principles

UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
GNI principles
Ranking Digital Rights

We invite other organizations to sign this statement, please add a comment on the blogpost and we will add your names as we go.


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