Super-Intermediaries, Code, Human Rights

159 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2014 Last revised: 1 Feb 2021

Date Written: October 24, 2013


We live in an age of intermediated network communications. Although the internet includes many intermediaries, some stand heads and shoulders above the rest. This article examines some of the responsibilities of “Super-Intermediaries” such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, intermediaries that have tremendous power over their users’ human rights. After considering the controversy arising from the incendiary YouTube video Innocence of Muslims, the article suggests that Super-Intermediaries face a difficult and likely impossible mission of fully servicing the broad tapestry of human rights contained in the International Bill of Human Rights. The article further considers how intermediary content-control procedures focus too heavily on intellectual property, and are poorly suited to balancing the broader and often-conflicting set of values embodied in human rights law. Finally, the article examines a number of steps that Super-Intermediaries might take to resolve difficult content problems and ultimately suggests that intermediaries subscribe to a set of process-based guiding principles — a form of Digital Due Process — so that intermediaries can better foster human dignity.

Keywords: cyberlaw, internet, human rights, United Nations, UDHR, ICCPR, innocence of Muslims, Islam, google, youtube, censorship, intermediaries, copyright, circumvention

Suggested Citation

Nathenson, Ira Steven, Super-Intermediaries, Code, Human Rights (October 24, 2013). 8 Intercultural Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 19 (2013), St. Thomas University School of Law (Florida) Research Paper No. 2014-09, Available at SSRN:

Ira Steven Nathenson (Contact Author)

St. Thomas University School of Law ( email )

16401 N.W. 37th Ave.
Miami, FL 33054
United States
(305) 474-2454 (Phone)
(305) 623-2390 (Fax)


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