AAID is an association created on 16 December 2014 under French law (Loi du 1er juillet 1901 relative au contrat d’association) and headquartered at 140 Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris.
The initiative to create AAID was taken after the important judgment of the European Court of Justice of May 13th 2014 (known as the “Right to be Forgotten”). We learned about the fate of over hundreds of victims all over the world who suffered and continue to suffer the consequences of defamation, denigration and cyberbullying on job loss, divorce, virtual destruction of their lives and despair leading even to suicide (according to information released by Google in 2015, 218,320 requests to remove links have been made in Europe).
In the course of our discussions with such victims we acquired substantial information as to the true nature and scope of the problem.
In particular, we learned how easy it is to become a victim.
All it takes is that somebody dislikes you for whatever reason triggering the dramatic and tragic consequences that we have seen above.
We quickly understood however that the need to regulate was far greater than we had originally envisaged.
Whatever is accessible on the Internet haunts you (in your private and in your business life) for the rest of your life and the reason for disapproval against you from potential employers, banks, business contacts, consumers and “friends” is most often couched in secrecy.
Two years after the creation of AAID (2016, red.) it is more clear than ever that failure to provide content regulation on the Internet causes not only personal tragedies but is also putting our democratic societies at risk by allowing safe havens for radicalization, fake news and manipulation of all kinds.
AAID’s Leitmotif is the introduction of a general standard of accountability on the Internet.
A standard which to a large extent is applied by existing regulations around the world to the media.
The same standard is already applied on the Internet in a very specific field i.e. intellectual property but is not applied to human integrity.
Why should human integrity deserve less protection than human creativity?
We are all born with dignity and integrity. Few of us arrive at a level of accomplishment which from a strict legal point of view enjoys intellectual property protection. Clearly the ancient and now anachronistic concept of limiting protection to values that may be directly translated into their monetary counterpart can no longer be defended in an environment where reputation has become a matter of societal integration and survival.
It is true that intellectual property rights can easily be monetized, but the value of integrity far exceeds such monetization and actually deserves a higher level of protection in the online world.
We are staunch defenders of free speech but at the same time we have to concede that free speech is not the only value that deserves protection and that unfortunately the Internet offers increasing challenges to those other values.
How many human tragedies have we not experienced already as a consequence of harassment, bullying hate speech, incitement to discrimination, apology for genocide, radicalization and now “fake news’’.
It is our firm belief that a certain level of regulation is indispensable.
Is the Internet the first invention in history liberated from abuse and relieved of legislative checks and balances?
There is no such thing as an unlimited and unrestrained license in society or human interaction. The alternative negates such interaction.
It is also a misconception that the laws of the off-line world should not apply to the online world.
The theoretical justification for such a stance fails to meet the test of reality.
We are constantly reminded of the stark contrast between utopian libertarianism and reality.
The scourge of terrorism catalysed by the net and recent manipulation of democratic processes by dissemination of fake news are tangible demonstrations of missed opportunities.
In light of the above, we promote the establishment of a better regulation of Cyberspace so that the protection of individual fundamental rights is ensured in the online world.
We have recently learned about challenges created by social media in terms of “Echo Chambers” i.e. groups within groups that galvanize their own beliefs and choices in life and thereby create vicious circles of hatred, radicalization, cyber bullying, etc.
These “Echo Chambers” are meant to identify consumer groups and thereby increase focused advertising and revenues. Hence, we are essentially dealing with a clash between a business model and societal values.
Accountability and regulation are imperative.
We have come to the conclusion that content regulation also in this regard is not an option. It’s a necessity.