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John Stone: For the Attention of David Kaye, on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

CHD logoNote: Growing up, my parents were big fans of BritComs - British sitcoms that ran on our Boston PBS station from the BBC. Are You Being Served? Fawlty Towers. And our very favorite, "Keeping Up Appearances."  To borrow from their dialog, I'm so pleased to announce that "our John" John Stone, is now also featured on the Children's Health Defense site.    It is alliances like this that will educate a broader swath of readers. Please join me in congratulating him.

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For the Attention of David Kaye, on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

By John Stone

On May 1, 2019, David Kaye Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression for the United Nations wrote a letter to Facebook’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He wrote to provide preliminary reactions to Facebook’s initiative to create an Oversight Board for Content Decisions (“the Board”).

In his letter he used as examples “anti-vaccination disinformation campaigns” and “vaccine misinformation:

Measures Facebook has adopted, for instance in the face of anti-vaccination disinformation campaigns, are often understandable responses to unfolding crises, but their ad-hoc development may be susceptible to criticisms of bias and arbitrariness. Aligning these measures with human rights standards, however, can place them on a more principled footing. Under Article 19(3), restrictions on expression may be validly imposed if they are “provided by law” and “necessary” to serve a legitimate objective, such as the protection of public health. The Human Rights Committee has found that “law” must be “formulated with sufficient precision to enable an individual to regulate his or her conduct accordingly.” Even though Facebook does not make laws, the general principles of legality should nevertheless guide Facebook’s development of its rules and policies. In the context of its response to vaccine misinformation, for example, these principles would at least require Facebook to provide more information about how it defines “vaccine misinformation,” the processes it has developed for flagging such content, and the types of consultations it conducted in developing these measures and with whom it consulted. These are also the kinds of considerations that the Board, to provide genuine oversight, should be equipped to assess in reviewing appeals of content decisions.

Article 19(3) also provides concrete metrics for assessing the impact of particular forms of expression on its platform, and calibrating a proportionate response to address such impacts. Under the requirement of legitimacy of objectives, it is incumbent on those advocating for restrictions to explain the “precise nature of the threat” and assess whether there is a “direct and immediate connection between the expression and the threat.” (CCPR/C/GC/34) In this example, these principles should lead Facebook to assess and explain how the spread of vaccine misinformation on its platforms raises public health concerns. Under the requirement of necessity, restrictions on expression must be “appropriate to achieve their protective function,” the “least intrusive instrument amongst those which might achieve their protective function” and “proportionate to the interest to be protected.” (Id.) Considerations of proportionality provide Facebook with a principled and internationally recognized framework for evaluating its decision to demote and de-emphasize anti-vaccination content rather than categorically ban such content on its platforms. Again, these are also the kinds of questions that the Board could be authorized to address in its review of content decisions.

On May 29, 2020 I wrote the a letter to David Kaye

To: David Kaye, ‘UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right freedom of opinion and expression

RE: Your letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Kaye,

Read the full letter at Children's Health Defense For the Attention of David Kaye, on Freedom of Opinion and Expression

Comments

Morag

Thank you John Stone, Age of Autism, and Children's Health Defense,for all the hard work.

That type of big long ackward silence is very "Sporadic Specific". It is equivalent to "The Angry Smile "face to face.
Of coarse if you don't get a response at all you might want to consider organising a Cap - in- Hand
collection, to send a photocopy of The Decleration of Arbroath 6/4/1320. Highlighting the difference between "English Rule " and Commune Klan Rule ?" To land on his desk with a big loud thud !
Second class signed for post "Track and Trace" would be sufficient?
That type of big long ackward silence certainly ain't worth the price of a first class stamp ,that's for sure!

Laura Hayes

Excellent letters, John...thank you for your tireless efforts.

Like Jenny Allan, I will also quote your most poignant statements, as they bear repeating, again and again:

“Now, every time that global corporate interests are called into question, governments only have to wheel out terms like “misinformation” or “disinformation” and they are safe from public scrutiny or accountability. This bodes ill both for democracy and the safety of citizens."

John Stone

Susan

I think we can absolutely take it that he is not going to reply. The first letter will have been received three weeks ago, and every effort to obtain an acknowledgement from him or his office in Geneva has been steadfastly ignored. Perhaps he should really be called UN Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of Corporate Global Intimidation and Suppression of Inconvenient Knowledge,

Angus Files

Well done John great letters as always,when the name slingers are the same guys who profit from the products who we gonna believe,but then all the facts are never shown to the public.And congratulations on your new post with CHD.

Were not alone and in good company..

For example, Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, has attacked President Trump and his team as ‘ACTUAL NAZIS” and smeared Trump voters as supporting a “racist tangerine.”

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/texas-ag-ken-paxton-trump-is-right-and-twitter-is-wrong-is-saying-mail-in-ballot-fraud-is-a-real-problem

Pharma For Prison

MMR RIP

susan welch

Excellent letters, John.

The points you make are so valid that I wonder if he will dare to answer. Alternatively, will he dare not to?

Look forward to finding out.

Bob Moffit

I am not surprised that David Kaye did not respond to your well presented arguments for allowing arguments opposing "global corporate interests" upon which governmental policies and protocols will be pursued.

Again Orwell's Animal Farm comes to mind .. ALL PIGS HAVE FREE SPEECH .. BUT .. SOME PIGS (GLOBAL CORPORATE INTERESTS" HAVE MORE FREE SPEECH THAN OTHERS.

Jenny Allan

Worth quoting this from John's second letter to David Kaye, (sent due to Mr Kaye's failure to reply to John's first letter).
"Now, every time that global corporate interests are called into question, governments only have to wheel out terms like “misinformation” or “disinformation” and they are safe from public scrutiny or accountability. This bodes ill both for democracy and the safety of citizens."

Well done John -You are a star!
Mr Kaye's silence is deafening.

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