Strasbourg, 05.04.2012 – The Council of Europe has adopted two Recommendations in which it calls on its members states to safeguard human rights, notably freedom of expression, access to information, freedom of association and the right to private life, with regard to search engines and social networking services.
In the Recommendation on search engines, the Committee of Ministers invites states to engage with search engine providers to increase transparency in the way access to information is provided, in particular the criteria used to select, rank or remove search results.
The Committee calls for more transparency and respect for users’ rights in the processing of personal data – for example of cookies, IP addresses and individual search histories.
In the Recommendation on social networking services, the Committee of Ministers’ calls on states to work with operators to raise users´ awareness of their rights and the challenges to them, by using clear and understandable language. It also recommends helping users understand the default settings of their profiles - which should be privacy-friendly - and make informed choices about their online identity.
The Recommendation contains a number of actions to protect children and young people against harmful content and behaviour, such as the setting up of easily accessible mechanisms for reporting inappropriate or apparently illegal content or behaviour.
The Committee invites states to work both with search engine and social platform operators to ensure better access to those services for people with disabilities. It also recommends that self and co-regulatory mechanisms are set up in order to contribute to the respect of human rights standards.
Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
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