Internet freedom, including access to online resources and digital tools, should be protected as essential to the exercise of human rights online, with any restrictions based in law, proportionate, and necessary in a democratic society.
- During electoral campaigns, a competent impartial electoral management body (EMB) or judicial body should be empowered to require private companies to remove clearly defined third-party content from the internet, based on electoral laws and in line with international standards.
- During electoral periods, the open internet and net neutrality need to be protected.
- States must refrain from using information and communication technology to intimidate, harass or otherwise deter individuals from exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including through the spreading of disinformation, targeted harassment, mass surveillance, and the generalized use of facial recognition technology.
- The right to freedom of peaceful assembly also applies to online spaces and the use of information and communications technology. States must refrain from restricting access to the Internet, specific websites or telecommunication networks for the purpose of preventing peaceful assemblies.
- States should actively promote universal access to the Internet regardless of political, social, economic or cultural differences, including by respecting the principles of net neutrality and of the centrality of human rights to the development of the Internet.
- Respect international human rights standards, including those of transparency, when seeking to regulate or influence expression on online media platforms.
- Recognise the right to access and use the Internet as a human right as an essential condition for the exercise of the right to freedom of expression.
- State mandated blocking of entire websites, IP addresses, ports or network protocols is an extreme measure which can only be justified where it is provided by law and is necessary to protect a human right or other legitimate public interest, including in the sense of that it is proportionate, there are no less intrusive alternative measures which would protect the interest and it respects minimum due process guarantees.
- Smart regulation, not heavy-handed viewpoint-based regulation, should be the norm, focused on ensuring company transparency and remediation to enable the public to make choices about how and whether to engage in online forums.
- The Human Rights Council has strongly condemned the use of Internet shutdowns that intentionally and arbitrarily prevent or disrupt access to information online. Shutting down the Internet is an inherently disproportionate response, given the blanket nature of the act, which blocks multiple other uses of the Internet. As such, it violates the requirement of necessity and proportionality set out in international human rights law.
- States have resorted to disproportionate measures such as Internet shutdowns and vague and overly broad laws to criminalize, block, censor and chill online speech and shrink civic space. These measures are not only incompatible with international human rights law but also contribute to amplifying misperceptions, fostering fear and entrenching public mistrust of institutions.