Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression report

Companies have for too long avoided human rights law as a guide to their rules and rule-making, notwithstanding the extensive impacts they have on the human rights of their users and the public.

This is according to the October 2019 report (pdf) from the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This report evaluates the human rights law that applies to the regulation of online “hate speech”.

The report recommends:

  • Human rights protections in an offline context must also apply to online speech. There should be no special category of online hate speech for which the penalties are higher than for offline hate speech
  • Governments must review existing laws or develop legislation on hate speech to meet the requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality, and legitimacy, and subject such rule-making to robust public participation
  • Companies must evaluate how their products and services affect the human rights of their users and the public, through periodic and publicly available human rights impact assessments.

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