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ARTICLE 19 urges Council of Europe to ensure free expression in search engines and social networks

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - London 22.03.11: ARTICLE 19 has provided comments to the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on New Media, calling on it to fully ensure internet users' right to freedom of expression when developing guidelines on managing search engines and social networks.

"The Council of Europe needs to ensure that individuals' rights to freedom of expression, including the right to access information, are not restricted by companies that manage search engines and social media platforms," stated Dr Agnès Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

The Council of Europe Committee of Experts on New Media is currently considering draft recommendations and guidelines on "protection of human rights with regard to search engines" and the draft recommendations and guidelines on "the measures to protect and promote respect for human rights with regard to social networking services".

ARTICLE 19 recommends that the guidelines be revised to ensure that search engines are transparent and fair in their indexing and presentation of results, that only minimal personal information about searches is collected and kept, and that filtering not be imposed on searches. Regarding social networks, ARTICLE 19 recommends that age-based restrictions not be implemented and that users are given strong controls over the release of their personal information. This includes allowing anonymous debate so as to prevent individuals being targeted for their opinions in places such as Azerbaijan.

Once the guidelines have been completed, the Committee of Experts on New Media will submit them to the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers for final approval.

To read the draft recommendations and guidelines, click here

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