The role of internet intermediaries in the protection of freedom of expression and personal data : human rights in a digital age
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The phenomenon of globalization has led to the emergence of powerful private actors on the international scene, capable of competing with the traditional powers of states in all fields, including that of human rights. In the world of internet, these new actors, that we will call internet intermediaries, have increasingly been playing a key role in the protection of freedom of expression and of personal data. On the one hand, they have adopted private rules regarding content restriction on their networks and the processing of data. On the other hand, states have been more and more relying on these actors to carry out their policies, mainly by requiring them to restrict content that they consider illegal or harmful or to hand over data to national authorities. The growing role that private actors play in freedom of expression and data protection raises concerns from a human rights perspective. Indeed, traditional human rights law has been designed to apply to states and not to private actors. However, new ways have emerged to ensure human rights protection online through the extension of the scope of state's traditional responsibilities and the development of new instruments specifically addressed to private actors.