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The Global Network Initiative publishes statements and resources on a regular basis to highlight trends and issues of concern for all stakeholders in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. As a multi-stakeholder initiative, GNI draws on the collective expertise of our members and on our cumulative experience in the global implementation of the GNI Principles.
The Global Network Initiative (GNI) commends recent action by the U.S. government and Europe to press for accountability from Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies in relation to human rights abuses in Iran and Syria. This is particularly important as at the same time some Internet technologies empower citizens to communicate in new ways, related technologies expose them to new risks, including surveillance that can facilitate serious human right violations.
GNI welcomes the announcement by the Obama administration of new sanctions targeting enablers of human rights abuses in Iran and Syria facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments. Although the Executive Order targets only Iran and Syria, we believe that government and company action to curtail the use of ICTs to enable human rights abuses should not be limited to these two countries, indeed, it is a global challenge.
On March 2, 2010, U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law held a hearing on “Global Internet Freedom and the Rule of Law, Part II.” The Global Network Initiative submitted a written statement [PDF] to help inform the Subcommittee’s work. This statement lays out key human rights challenges facing the ICT industry and opportunities for collaboration to promote Internet freedom. GNI participants Rebecca MacKinnon and Google (represented by Nicole Wong) testified at the hearing.
It is essential that the global ICT industry and its stakeholders make a public and shared commitment to respect user rights in the face of increased threats to freedom of expression and privacy all over the world. We invite all ICT companies to participate in the GNI, draw upon the guidance provided by the GNI framework, and contribute to our efforts in crafting responsible approaches to business decisions.