A UK government report says that regulation is needed to ensure the reliability of news content distributed by Internet companies like Facebook, Google, and Apple. The Cairncross Review: A Sustainable Future states that 'This task is too important to leave entirely to the judgment of commercial entities'. The reviewers were asked to 'consider the sustainability of the production and distribution of high-quality journalism, and especially the future of the press, in this dramatically changing market' and also 'looked at the overall state of the news media market, the threats to the financial sustainability of publishers, the impact of search engines and social media platforms, and the role of digital advertising'.
Intermediaries play a vital role in ensuring Internet functionality. In several Internet governance areas, such as copyright infringement and spam, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are considered key online intermediaries. In other areas, such as defamation and the so-called right to be forgotten, the responsibility extends to hosts of online content and search engines.
Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.
One of the main sociocultural issues is content policy, often addressed from the standpoints of human rights (freedom of expression and the right to communicate), government (content control), and technology (tools for content control). Discussions usually focus on three groups of content: