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Thank you for your report which provides useful guidance on how states and digital access providers can advance rather than unduly restrict the right of individuals to online freedom of expression.
We share your concerns about the frequently occurring, State imposed, access restrictions that fail to meet international human rights standards, such as network shutdowns, intrusive government surveillance and interference with net neutrality. The EU is committed to promote unhindered, uncensored and non-discriminatory access to online services for all, as highlighted by the adoption in 2014 of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression online and offline. The EU is also committed to privacy protection and net neutrality under the 2012 EU code of online rights, the 2015 EU Regulation on open internet access and its 2016 Implementing Guidelines.
We also agree that digital access providers have their own responsibility to respect human rights and freedom of expression, and that they should allocate adequate resources to meet their high-level policy commitments. The EU remains fully committed to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as emphasized in the European Commission’s current strategy on Corporate Social Responsibility.
Mr. Kaye, how can States and digital access providers cooperate to prevent the use of the internet for terrorist and criminal purposes, including for disseminating hate speech, without unduly restricting the freedom of expression?
Also, how, in your opinion, can private actors protect themselves and their employees from undue pressure, harassment and reprisals by States for refusing to comply with requests for censorship or divulging user data?