On 3 May 2022 the OECD launched its new Voluntary Transparency Reporting Framework (VTRF 1.0), a web portal for submitting and accessing standardised transparency reports from online content-sharing services about their policies and actions on terrorist and violent extremist content (TVEC) online. The reports are based on a questionnaire that covers 12 main topics, is designed to be answerable by services of all sizes, and is intended to produce a baseline level of transparency.
Two years in the making, and developed with more than 100 of the world’s leading authorities on addressing violent extremist and terrorist activity online, platform governance, and human rights, VTRF 1.0 is the result of the most extensive international, multi-stakeholder consultation ever undertaken for a transparency reporting framework on TVEC. The VTRF is supported by all 38 member countries of the OECD.
A high-level virtual event on 3 May 2022 marked the official launch of the VRTF web portal, a critical step towards a more holistic understanding of the measures taken by the full ecosystem of online content-sharing services to address TVEC and the consequences of those measures for human rights.
We also heard from government officials, members of the private sector and civil society on relevant initiatives underway in their organisations or jurisdictions. Speakers included OECD Secretary-General Matthias Cormann; Korean Ambassador for Science, Technology and Innovation Wonki Min; and French Ambassador for Digital Affairs Henri Verdier.
Three years have passed since the livestreamed terrorist massacre of 51 people in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since then, the abuse of online content-sharing services by terrorists and violent extremists has continued, leading to more deadly attacks for example in Paris and Vienna. Terrorists and violent extremist groups have shown that they are just as adept at using the Internet to amplify their messages, radicalise and recruit new members, and coordinate criminal activities as other groups are at using the Internet to grow their businesses and facilitate other legitimate activities.
Although more online content-sharing services are starting to issue transparency reports about terrorist and violent extremist content, they all go about it differently. They report different metrics, use different methodologies and definitions of key terms, and report with different frequencies. At the same time, more and more governments are issuing, or considering, regulations that will require TVEC transparency reports; here too, governments are going about it in different ways, which risks fragmenting regulatory compliance across multiple jurisdictions.
The OECD’s new VTRF is an operational response to this complex situation that is designed to:
With the VTRF, the OECD offers a solution that will make transparency reporting on TVEC more useful, convenient, and efficient.
The launch initiates a period in which the OECD will gather feedback from companies that complete the template, and users who view the reported information.
The VTRF sets a standard for baseline transparency on TVEC. Future editions of the VTRF will feature an additional layer of questions and metrics for companies wishing to engage in more advanced reporting. As the OECD adds greater depth and sophistication to the VTRF’s TVEC reporting component, it will also be working on expanding the framework to cover reporting in another area: child sexual abuse material online. Over time, the framework can also be further expanded to include reporting on any other online content areas for which transparency is needed, such as mis- and disinformation, gender-based violence, bullying, fraud, and so on.