Google says no to 'one size fits all' mandate for governing content


  • Kent Walker, the Senior Vice President of Global Affairs at Google, published a blog post highlighting how the 'one-size-fits-all mandate' is not a good way to form online frameworks.
  • Not only are there different kinds of content but it doesn't allow for innovation and technological advancement.
  • Walkers seeks clarity from governments on the laws, and pushes for international coordination.
Online content comes in many shapes and sizes — and that's the point Kent Walker, the Senior Vice President of Global Affairs at Google is trying to make.

In his blog post, Walker wrote, "It's important for oversight frameworks to recognize the different purposes and functions of different services."

It's not just about the variation of content, but also the rigidity of the law itself.

The 'one-size-fits-all mandate' will work against innovation and advances in technology. Walker opines, "Likewise, legal approaches should recognize the varying needs and capabilities of startups and smaller companies."

The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, too had written a letter to the Indian government to highlight the importance of data sharing last year when the Personal Data Protection Bill draft was rolled out in the country.

The wrong laws could work against you

Walker warns that in the absence of clarity, it's possible that the laws meant to provide access to the requisite information, may actually limit access.

He states, "Without clear definitions, there is a risk of arbitrary or opaque enforcement that limits access to legitimate information."

Instead, he says that governments should draw clear lines between what is legal and illegal speech, as per the principles of democratic accountability and international human rights.

It's an 'us' problem

Walker calls it international coordination, you could call it uniformity, but the point is to have a broad consensus between countries around the world, about the limits of permissible speech.

He states, "International coordination should strive to align on broad principles and practices."

"Tackling this problem is a shared responsibility. Many laws, covering everything from consumer protection to defamation to privacy, already govern online content," he added.

During Indian Lok Sabha Election, social media platforms were asked to follow Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which dictates a 48-hour period of media silence leading up to the polls. It's not a universal law but was mandatory for all networks operating in India.

See also:
Here's what Sundar Pichai had to say to the Indian government


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