Intermediary Liability & Freedom of Expression: Recent Developments in the EU Notice & Action Initiative
Published in Computer Law and Security Review, Vol 31. Issue 1 2015, pages 46-56.
18 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2015 Last revised: 13 Jul 2016
Date Written: December 31, 2014
In the European Union, liability of Internet Intermediaries for third parties’ content is regulated by the e-Commerce Directive. This instrument introduced liability exemptions for certain Internet Intermediaries, subject to specific requirements. The providers of so-called ‘hosting services’, for example, shall only enjoy such immunity provided they act expeditiously to remove illegal online content upon request. This mechanism, however, creates a risk for the fundamental right of freedom of expression. Without the necessary safeguards, this mechanism has the effect of inducing private censorship. Moreover, this mechanism has not been uniformly adopted in the EU countries creating a situation of great legal uncertainty. Cognisant of these problems, the EU has decided to review its rules on the Intermediary liability by commencing a ‘Notice and Action’ initiative. This paper describes the problem that the current legislation entails with regard to freedom of expression. From this perspective it, further, looks into the actions undertaken to this date by the European Commission on the topic of Notice and Action.
Keywords: e-Commerce Directive, Intermediary Liability, Notice and Action, Notice-and-Take down, Freedom of expression
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