This report by Electronic Frontier Foundation provides objective measurements for analyzing the policies of major technology companies when it comes to government-requested censorship.
Executive Summary by EEF
We are at a critical moment for free expression online and for the role of Internet intermediaries in the fabric of democratic societies. In particular, governments around the world have been pushing companies to take down more speech than ever before. What responsibilities do the platforms that directly host our speech have to protect—or take down—certain types of expression when the government comes knocking?
The first step toward answering that question is transparency. How often are governments asking companies to remove speech, and how do the companies handle those demands? Furthermore, what processes do companies afford to users whose content is removed and whose accounts are suspended?
Given policymakers' and the public's intense focus on cracking down on speech they consider undesirable, this year's Who Has Your Back report features substantially redesigned categories and criteria. Since the Electronic Frontier Foundation began publishing Who Has Your Back in 2011, it has generally focused on the practices of major consumer-facing Internet companies regarding government requests to produce user data. This year, we shift our focus to companies' responses to government requests to take down user content and suspend user accounts.
For our 2018 report, we assess companies' policies against five all-new criteria:
Transparency in reporting government takedown requests based on both legal requests and requests alleging platform policy violations
Providing meaningful notice to users of every content takedown and account suspension
Providing users with an appeals process to dispute takedowns and suspensions
Limiting the geographic scope of takedowns when possible
Three platforms—the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and YouTube—earned stars in all five of these categories. And three more—Medium, Reddit, and WordPress.com—earned stars in all but the notice category, which proved the most challenging category for the companies we assessed. Some companies fell notably short overall; Facebook's and Instagram's policies in particular lagged behind comparable tech companies and social networks. However, it's clear that public pressure is resulting in real change in corporate policy and practice. We look forward to more long-term improvements across the industry in future years as companies take steps to be more accountable to their users and those users' right to freedom of expression.