On Monday, 3 May, UNESCO released a new issue brief on transparency and accountability in the digital age as part of its series titled World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development. The brief includes a selection of high-level principles to enhance the transparency of internet platform companies. Authored by internet policy expert Andrew Puddephatt, it was informed by a series of bilateral informal consultations with several internet companies, regulators, and experts from countries in the Global North and in the Global South.
The UNESCO issue brief, titled ‘Letting the Sun Shine In: Transparency and Accountability in the Digital Age,’ presents enhancing transparency as a third way between state overregulation of content, which has led to disproportionate restrictions on human rights, and a laissez-faire approach that has failed to effectively address problematic content such as hate speech and disinformation. The 26 high-level principles included in the issue brief span across issues related to content and process, due diligence and redress, empowerment, commercial dimensions, personal data gathering and use, and data access. In the coming months, UNESCO foresees engaging in multi-stakeholder consultations to further develop the principles into a more detailed operational framework.
The brief was released during the UNESCO global conference for World Press Freedom Day, at a high-level dialogue moderated by David Kaye, former UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression and opinion and current Chair of the Board of the Global Network Initiative, with leading international experts.