The Forum on Information and Democracy announces the creation of the Working group on accountability regimes for social network accounts. Its steering committee will be chaired by Kjersti Loken Stavrum, CEO of the media holding company Tinius Trust and President of Pen Norway, and Damian Tambini, Distinguished Policy Fellow at the London School of Economics and expert on freedom of expression.

The Forum on Information and Democracy is launching its working group on Accountability regimes for social networks and their users, which was enacted at the first Summit for Information and Democracy in New York in September 2021. Its mission is to develop concrete recommendations for regulation and self-regulation on the treatment of accounts by platforms and its legal framework. The steering committee is chaired by Kjersti Loken Stavrum and Damian Tambini and composed of 10 personalities.

In a context of disintermediation in the field of information and communication, social networks are a new category that is not subject to an appropriate legal framework. While there are legal provisions for reasonable restrictions on freedom of expression, for which states impose more or less precise obligations on technology companies with regard to content, there is no framework defining how their users’ accounts should be treated.

What are the rights and obligations of companies and account holders? What are the sanctions? How should they be assessed? As recent examples of account suspensions have shown, the legal vacuum enables social networks to implement their own rules for account management, outside the democratic framework. The report will be released in June and handed over to the member states of the Partnership on Information and Democracy ahead of the summit of the same name to be held in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2022.

“The lack of precedence and the legal vacuum allow social networks to make decisions outside of any democratic control, said Christophe Deloire, chair of the Forum on Information and Democracy. It is urgent to build a legal system that respects democratic principles and defines the rights and obligations of both platforms and account holders. This will be the vocation of the working group that will propose concrete recommendations on the treatment of accounts by social networks.”

We aim to put on the table solutions for how social networks can be democratic accountable and ensure an enlightened public debate, insisted Kjersti Loken Stavrum. I very much look forward to our work.”

“Democracy has its back to the wall all over the world, added Damian Tambini. A crucial step to repairing trust is to get social media regulation right. I am convinced we have got a great team together to do this, and will deliver useful recommendations to the UN in September”

The Forum will soon issue a global call for contributions for this working group.

The working group’s steering committee will be composed of the following individuals:

  • Kjersti Loken Stavrum, co-chair, CEO of Tinius Trust and President of PEN Norway, Norway
  • Damian Tambini, co-chair, Distinguished Policy Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, UK
  • Damian Collins, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom
  • Anette Novak, Journalist and Director of the Swedish Media Council, Sweden
  • Karuna Nundy, Lawyer of the Indian Supreme Court, India
  • Olivier de Frouville, Professor of Public Law at the University Panthéon-Assas (Paris II), France
  • Timothy Garton Ash, Professor of European Studies at Oxford University, United Kingdom
  • Richard Malka, Lawyer specialized in freedom of expression, France
  • Bernd Holznagel, Director of the Institute for Information, Telecommunications and Media Law at the University of Münster, Germany
  • Jacob Mchangama, Legal expert and Director of the think tank Justitia, Denmark