Public Report on the Independent Assessment Process for Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 09:00

Report Executive Summary available in ArabicChineseFrenchRussian, and Spanish.

The Global Network Initiative today released a public report on the independent assessments of founding companies Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The assessments looked at cases of government requests implicating the rights of Internet users, and found that each company is making a good faith effort to implement GNI’s Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, and to improve over time.

“These independent assessments—the first of their kind—present a major step forward on human rights accountability in the technology sector,” said GNI Board Chair Jermyn Brooks. “They demonstrated in the many specific cases examined how companies, applying the GNI Principles, have in fact been able to limit the removal of content and the release of personal data as a result of government requests,” he continued.

The assessments focused on products and services that in the company’s view posed the most salient risks to freedom of expression and privacy—search, email, and photo and video sharing services—with cases identified through a process that included consultation with GNI’s non-company members. The report presents information in aggregate or anonymized form in order to allow public disclosure of how the companies review and respond to government requests without disclosing confidential information. The report also details examples of the recommendations made by the assessors to one or more companies. The process did not and cannot determine whether the companies have acted appropriately with respect to each of the many thousands of requests received each year from governments.

Read the report.