What is transparency?
At its simplest, transparency in the context of the Christchurch Call is about being as open as possible as individual supporters and as a Call Community about how we meet Call commitments and the impacts of our actions on terrorist and violent extremist content online.
Why is this important?
Transparency is mentioned in several Call commitments. For example, online service providers commit to being transparent around how they set and enforce their community standards and terms of service, and how much terrorist and violent extremist content they detect and remove.
Transparency is implicit in other Call commitments. For example, how governments enforce laws prohibiting the production or dissemination of terrorist and violent extremist content online.
Many groups have an interest in transparency, including online service users, community advocates, human rights experts, researchers, regulators and legislators. Part of the Call Community’s work is to make sure that online service providers’ reporting and transparency is meaningful for these groups, and meets their needs for research and policy development. That involves identifying what they need to know and why, and making the relevant information and insights accessible to them.
Civil society also has an important role in working with governments and online service providers to improve transparency.
Ultimately, transparency helps build understanding and trust among stakeholders as a basis for collective action. It is necessary for designing and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, while protecting and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Transparency contributes to accountability and continuous improvement, for example by holding Call Community debriefs following a crisis response, or enabling research into the effectiveness of specific interventions.
What has been achieved?
The Call Community has made significant progress on aspects of transparency since the launch of the Call.
In October 2023, the Transparency Initiatives Portal(external link) website was launched by the Action Coalition on Meaningful Transparency(external link). It collates tech transparency initiatives, significant actors, regulations from governments, outputs from civil society organisations and upcoming events relevant to tech transparency in a regularly updated and searchable database. The portal addresses the challenge of getting a global picture of transparency in the tech sector.
An OECD global benchmarking report(external link) for 2021 noted an increase in the number of online service providers issuing reports with specific information on terrorist and violent extremist content, and an improvement in the quality of the information provided.
Members of the Call Community play an important role in encouraging and supporting transparency by online service providers.
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism(external link) (GIFCT) membership criteria requires online service providers to have publicly available policies that explicitly prohibit terrorist and violent extremist activity, and to publish regular transparency reports.
Tech Against Terrorism(external link) has a mentoring program that helps online service providers that aspire to GIFCT membership to develop policies and systems that meet GIFCT criteria. Tech Against Terrorism has also issued guidance for government transparency reports.
Recently, some governments have developed legislation to tackle online harms that includes transparency and reporting requirements. As regulators move to implement these requirements, we can expect to see further guidance and support for the tech sector and improvements in transparency.
- Developing and making accessible advice for the Call’s online service provider and government supporters on best practice in providing meaningful transparency to key stakeholders.
- Continuing to encourage and support Call supporters to make demonstrable improvements in their transparency practices and reporting.
- Call Community members are actively involved in multistakeholder work on transparency in the GIFCT Transparency Working Group, the OECD, the Action Coalition for Meaningful Transparency and the Center for International Governance Innovation’s Global Platform Governance Network.