Transatlantic High Level Working Group on Content Moderation Online and Freedom of Expression

A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania
in partnership with The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands and
the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam


Leadership

Susan Ness, Distinguished Fellow, Annenberg Public Policy Center; Former Member, Federal Communications Commission; Distinguished Fellow, German Marshall Fund
Nico van Eijk, Professor of Media and Telecommunications Law and Director of the Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director, Annenberg Public Policy Center; Professor of Communication, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania

Purpose

To identify and encourage adoption of scalable solutions to reduce hate speech, violent extremism and viral deception online, while protecting freedom of expression and a vibrant, global internet.

The Transatlantic Working Group (TWG) is a high level commission that includes government representatives, legislators, corporate and other policy experts from the European Union, member states, and the United States, established to assess which laws, bills, and initiatives are working, which are not working, and which need to be given more time to develop. With the goal of enhancing the quality of public debates in Europe and the U.S., recommendations will be released throughout the project. A final report will include practical next steps and identify areas in need of further examination.

Unique focus of the Transatlantic Working Group

The project fills a critical and widely recognized void. By reorienting the conversation from entirely separate European and U.S. debates on values and solutions to a transatlantic discussion, it will facilitate greater transatlantic cooperation in determining principles and practices that govern global content moderation.

The TWG project will evaluate how well the government initiatives and indirect actions in Europe and the United States are protecting freedom of expression and a global internet as they work to curb viral deception, hateful, and terrorist speech online. We also will examine voluntary, non-governmental initiatives (both corporate and multistakeholder) on both sides of the Atlantic. Specifically, we will assess what is working, what is not, and – importantly – what might work if given more time. In order to enhance the debate, we will publicize our recommendations.

Working group composition

The Transatlantic High Level Working Group consists of prominent government officials, legislators, and corporate executives and other policy experts from the European Union, member states, and the United States, including eight steering committee members, who are distinguished academics and think tank leaders. The members were chosen for their expertise on digital policy, fundamental rights and security matters, and represent a wide range of viewpoints and geographic perspectives. Half of the Steering Committee members are from Europe and half from North America.
In addition, the Transatlantic Working Group will consult with an informal group of advisors, who are experts in comparative law and regulation, business and technology.

Administration

  • The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania (APPC) is the principal project administrator. It is under the leadership of Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania.
  • The Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), as the Lead European Institution, helps to manage research and meetings and encourage full European engagement in the project. IViR is led by Professor Nico van Eijk of the Faculty of Law at UvA.

Support

The Annenberg Public Policy Center, in partnership with The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, provides convening space and related assistance to the Transatlantic Working Group.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C., has approved a grant in support of the research and public outreach activities of the Transatlantic Working Group, as part of the Dutch government’s commitment to advance freedom of expression, a fundamental human right that is essential to democracy.

The TWG does not accept direct corporate funding.

Institutions

The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania has been the premier communication policy center in the United States since its founding in 1993. By conducting and releasing research, staging conferences and hosting policy discussions, its scholars have addressed the role of communication in politics, science, adolescent behavior, child development, health care, civics, and mental health, among other important arenas. The Center’s researchers have drafted materials that helped policy makers, journalists, scholars, constituent groups and the general public better understand the role that media play in their lives and the life of the nation.

The Institute for Information Law (IViR) is the Lead European Institution for the project. Officially established in 1989, it is one of the largest research centers in the field of information law in the world. The Institute employs over 25 researchers who are active in an entire spectrum of information society related legal areas: intellectual property law, patents, telecommunications and broadcasting regulation, media law, internet regulation, advertising law, domain names, freedom of expression, privacy, digital consumer issues, commercial speech, et cetera. The Institute engages in cutting-edge research into fundamental and topical aspects of information law, and provides a forum for critical debate about the social, cultural and political aspects of regulating information markets. The Institute for Information Law is affiliated with the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam.

The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands operates The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, which hosts meetings in Rancho Mirage, California, and other locations for leaders to address serious issues facing the nation and the world. Sunnylands was the site of the historic 2013 summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and the 2016 US-ASEAN Leaders summit. The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit operating foundation established by the late Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands supports the TWG as part of the Dutch government’s commitment to advancing freedom of expression, a fundamental human right that is essential to democracy.